Thursday, July 11, 2013

Soul Singer Johnny Williams

Born: Jan. 15, 1942 Tyler, AL
Jazz, R&B Vocals
Source: Alabama Music Hall of Fame

Biography by Ed Hogan
Hard-singing soul/blues singer Johnny Williams' biggest hit was "Slow Motion, Pt.1," a 1972 Top Ten R&B single for Gamble & Huff's Philadelphia International Records. He also recorded sides for Epic and Chicago Soul producer Carl Davis' Dakar subsidiary, Bashie.
Born Johnny Lee Williams on January 15, 1942, in Tyler, AL, he moved to Chicago in 1956 and attended DuSable High School on the city's south side. He honed his vocal skills by singing in church and in the Royal Jubilees, a gospel quartet. Switching to secular music, Williams was managed by Pervis Spann ("The Blues Man") and E. Rodney Jones, announcers at legendary R&B radio station WVON 1450 AM. The singer began writing songs, with one, "My Baby's Good" b/w an ode to the dance craze "Philly Dog," being issued by local label Chess Records in 1966.
Conquer The World: The Lost Soul Of Philadelphia International RecordsThree years later, Williams signed with Dakar Records owned by producer Carl Davis (Gene Chandler, Chi-Lites, Jackie Wilson). The first single, "I Made a Mistake," was co-written by Williams, Willie Henderson, and Lee Simmons; on the flip side was "Baby Be Mine." Other songs Williams co-wrote included "Teach Me How," "Being Wanted, Needed and Loved," "Let's All Participate," "Nona Baby," "I Need Your Love," "Singing to the Starlight," and "When the Pumpkin's Turning Yellow."
In the early '70s, Williams moved to Gamble & Huff's Philadelphia International Records. The single, "Slow Motion, Pt.1," written by Gamble & Huff, b/w "Shall We Gather by the Water," written by Phil Hurtt and Bunny Sigler, hit number 12 R&B on Billboard's charts in fall 1972. Another Gamble & Huff song, "It's So Wonderful" b/w "Love Don't Rub Off," was a PIR single. Other singles by Williams include "I'd Like to Be With You" on Cub, "Women" on Twinight, and "Don't Call for Me," "He Will Break Your Heart," and "Sweet Memories" on Epic.
Johnny Williams released some truly great soul songs but has not gotten the recognition he deserves.  He passed away in 1986 and is often confused with Johnny Lee Williams of Mobile, AL who sang with the Drifters, as well as other musicians named Johnny Williams.

More info:
Video: Johnny Williams - Slow Motion, Part 1 (1972)
Allmusic credits:


johnny williams albums
Amazon: It's So Wonderful and Slow Motion (Part 1) (Previously released material) and Just A Little Misunderstanding and Your Love Controls My World
iTunes: Slow Motion, Pt. 1 - The Philly Sound: Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff and the Story of Brotherly Love and It's So Wonderful - Conquer the World: The Lost Soul of Philadelphia International Records

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Dewey President Williams

Born: Mar. 5, 1898  Ozark, AL

Died: Nov. 11, 1995

Sacred Harp Vocals Wiregrass Singers

Source: Alabama Music Hall of Fame

1983 NEA National Heritage Fellow

Dewey President Williams was born March 6, 1898, in the Haw Ridge community, seven miles west of Ozark, in Dale County, Alabama. His parents, June and Anna (Bruner) Williams, were sharecroppers in Haw Ridge. His grandparents had been slaves in Barbour County, Alabama, before the Civil War.

As a child, Williams was instructed in the singing of Sacred Harp or shape-note hymns by his grandmother in the kitchen of her house. "I started when I was about seven years old," Williams said. "When I first started off, I'd hear my old folks singing at night, and I'd get up the next morning; me and my brother would set in the kitchen and take the book and look at it and sing the same songs they sung. We didn't know what we was doing, but we knew it was singing."

Williams attended public schools in Dale County through the third grade, but was forced to leave to join his father as a sharecropper. As he grew up, he learned more about the Sacred Harp and Seven Shaped Music from local music leaders, notably Webster Woods and Judge Jackson, two black singing school masters. Judge Jackson was the author and editor of The Colored Sacred Harp (1931), the only black Sacred Harp hymnal ever published.

The term "shape-note" refers to the four shapes (triangle, square, oval, diamond) used to designate the four tones of the scale (bass, alto, tenor, and treble) used in Sacred Harp arrangements. Sacred Harp is performed in unaccompanied four-part harmony, with the singing of the notes preceding the lyrics. Sacred Harp takes its name from the songbook The Sacred Harp, first published in 1844. Thirty-eight different shape-note tune books were published between 1798 and 1855, but The Sacred Harp is the only one that remains in common use. The songbooks were originally used in singing schools and were eventually used at singing conventions. They were never used historically as part of the liturgy of an established church. First developed in New England, Sacred Harp or shape-note singing is immensely popular in the Deep South. Southeast Alabama is the only area in the country where there is a vibrant black Sacred Harp tradition. Documentation dates the earliest black convention to 1880, and there is evidence that Sacred Harp was sung by African Americans before the Civil War.

During a typical sing, participants arrange themselves in a square according to voice part, the basses facing the trebles and the tenors facing the altos. A song leader stands in the middle of the square leading the singers, first through the notes to the songs and then through the lyrics, a practice emanating from the traditional singing school classes, where singers are taught the notes (musical syllables) and then the words.

Although African Americans sing essentially the same hymns as their Anglo counterparts, they perform in a somewhat different style. About these differences, Williams said, "White folks sing it faster than we do, as a rule. Singing is the understanding, but really and truly, we sing the way it was sung back ... years ago."

In 1921, Williams married Alice Nancy Casey in Ozark, Alabama; the couple had eight children. Williams continued to labor as a sharecropper and maintained a strong Christian faith. He was a member and deacon of the Church of God by Faith in Ozark. At age 40, Williams began to teach singing school himself, and over the next 25 years he traveled throughout southeast Alabama to instruct people in African American communities.

In 1956, he developed a Sunday morning singing program that aired weekly over radio station WOZK. In 1964, he began producing and directing a monthly television program dedicated to the celebration of Sacred Harp singing for television station WTVY, in nearby Dothan, Alabama.

After he retired from farming, Williams devoted himself full-time to teaching and performing Sacred Harp music. He organized the Wiregrass Sacred Harp Singers in 1971, and directed the group in performances and workshops throughout Alabama, as well as in touring programs in Washington, D.C.; Montreal, Canada; and Berea, Kentucky. In 1973, he worked with the Alabama State Council on the Arts and Humanities to reprint The Colored Sacred Harp. Williams was able to key and sing every part of every one of the more than 500 songs in The Sacred Harp, in addition to the 77 songs in The Colored Sacred Harp.


Photo credit: Peggy A. Bulger
Photo source: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory,

More Info:


Video: Dewey Williams Heritage Award Winner Leads Amazing Grace

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Charles Cootie Williams

Born: July 10, 1908  Mobile, AL
Died: Sept. 15, 1985
Top trumpeter during the 1940's -Played with Benny Goodman, Chick Webb, Fletcher Henderson, Lionel Hampton, Teddy Wilson, and Billie Holiday, being showcased in Duke Ellington's band.
Source: Alabama Music Hall of Fame

Charles Melvin "Cootie" Williams (July 10, 1911 – September 15, 1985) was an American jazz, jump blues,[1] and rhythm and blues trumpeter.

Born in Mobile, Alabama, United States, Williams began his professional career with the Young Family band, which included saxophonist Lester Young, when he was 14 years old.[2] According to Williams he acquired his nickname as a boy when his father took him to a band concert. When it was over his father asked him what he'd heard and the lad replied "Cootie, cootie, cootie".[3]
In 1928, he made his first recordings with pianist James P. Johnson in New York, where he also worked briefly in the bands of Chick Webb and Fletcher Henderson.[2] He rose to prominence as a member of Duke Ellington's orchestra, with which he first performed from 1929 to 1940. He also recorded his own sessions during this time, both freelance and with other Ellington sidemen. Williams also sang occasionally, a notable vocal collaboration with Ellington was the piece, "Echoes of the Jungle".[2] Cootie Williams was renowned for his growling "jungle" style trumpet playing (in the manner of Ellington's earlier trumpeter Bubber Miley and trombonist Joe "Tricky Sam" Nanton) and for his use of the plunger mute.
In 1940 he joined Benny Goodman's orchestra, a highly publicized move that caused quite a stir at the time[4] (commemorated by Raymond Scott with the song "When Cootie Left the Duke"),[5] then in 1941 formed his own orchestra, in which over the years he employed Charlie Parker, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Bud Powell, Eddie Vinson, and other young players.
In 1947, Williams wrote the song "Cowpox Boogie" while recuperating from a bout with smallpox. He contracted the disease from a vaccination he insisted all band members receive.[6]
By the late 1940s Williams had fallen somewhat into obscurity, having had to reduce his band numbers and finally to disband.[2] In the 1950s, he began to play more rhythm and blues, and toured with small groups. In the late 1950s he formed a small jazz group and recorded a number of albums with Rex Stewart, as well as his own album, Cootie in Hi-Fi (1958).[2] In 1962, he rejoined Ellington and stayed with the orchestra until 1974, after Ellington's death. In 1975, he performed during the Super Bowl IX halftime show.
Cootie Williams died in New York on September 15, 1985, at age 74. Williams is a 1991 inductee of the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame.

Cootie Williams and His Orchestra 1941–1944 (Classics, 1995)
Cootie Williams and His Orchestra 1945–1946 (Classics, 1999)
Cootie Williams and His Orchestra 1946–1949 (Classics, 2000)
Cootie and Rex (Jazztone, 1957) (with Rex Stewart)
The Big Challenge (Jazztone, 1957) (with Rex Stewart)
Porgy and Bess Revisited (Warner Bros., 1958) (with Rex Stewart)
Cootie in Hi-Fi (Jazztone, 1958)

^ a b Du Noyer, Paul (2003). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Music (1st ed.). Fulham, London: Flame Tree Publishing. p. 181. ISBN 1-904041-96-5.
^ a b c d e Robinson, J. Bradford (1994). "Williams, Cootie". In Kernfeld, Barry. The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz. New York, New York: St. Martin's Press. p. 1290.
^ Curtis, Constance; Herndon, Cholie (30 April 1949). "Know your Boroughs Orchestra Men Talk About Show Business". The New York Amsterdam News. p. 15.
^ Visser, Joop (2001). "Disc Four - Take the A-Train". Duke Ellington - Masterpieces 1926-1949 (CD booklet). England: Proper. p. 39. PROPERBOX 25.
^ Schenker, Anatol (1995). Cootie Williams and His Orchestra 1941–1944 (CD booklet). France: Classics. p. 3. CLASSICS 827.
^ "The Laugh is on Maestro Cootie". The Afro American. 3 May 1947. Retrieved 28 November 2010.

More info:
Allmusic bio
Video: Cootie Williams - You Talk A Little Trash
Video: Cootie Williams - Mobile Blues


cootie williams albums
Amazon: Cootie Williams
iTunes: Cootie Williams

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Alabama Record Collectors Record Show May 24-25 2013


FRIDAY, MAY 24, 2013
1 - 4 PM (Early Bird $10)
 4 - 9 PM (General Adm. $3)

SATURDAY, MAY 25, 2013
9 AM - 5 PM (Gen. Adm. $3)

Two day general admission pass $5
Special guest Buddy Causey

A.R.C.A. is Alabama's original organization for music collectors, founded in 1980 as a non-profit association dedicated to the memory and preservation of recorded music. Membership is available to anyone with an interest in music or music collecting. A.R.C.A. provides an opportunity for members to share their interests in music, and to assist other members in enhancing their collections and musical knowledge. Our members are a diverse group whose music interests cover a wide variety of musical styles, including rock & roll, jazz, country, big band, rhythm & blues, oldies, folk and blues. Their collections range from small to large, and from the 1920s to the 2000s. Some members collect rare and unusual recordings, but most just collect what they enjoy listening to.


Monday, May 6, 2013

jerry woodard whos gonna rock my babyRecord labels Reed, Fad, Heart, Colvin, Dial, Chant, Chantain, Century Limited, Argo, and even RCA Victor gave Jerry Woodard a chance at the big time. Jerry was a singer who could sing every kind of music - from rockabilly to sad ballads to novelty to sweet soul to country to blues to spiritual. Everyone who ever worked with Jerry was simply amazed at his ability to sing "Who’s Gonna Rock My Baby" and then immediately switch and sing "She’s a Housewife, That’s All". Jerry had hits with all of these labels, but just never got promoted to the top. He had been voted the #1 entertainment band in the nation, had had song #8 on American Bandstand, and saw many of his 45’s on the charts. Jerry was destined to make it, but did not live long enough to see it happen.

Jerry Eugene Woodard was born in Anniston, Alabama on May 25, 1941. His father was a minister who did not approve of rock ‘n roll and tried to steer the kids away from the devil’s music. Jerry’s friend and fellow performer, Jerry Grammer, said that Woodard always had religion inside him and it reminded him of Elvis and his convictions – "We talked about our past in the "Church" and what we really believed in on numerous occasions. Sometimes we would break into a gospel song in a club. People enjoyed it - even if they were shocked!"

Jerry (as well as his siblings) inherited his talent and lust for music from his Dad who played guitar and banjo and his Mom who played guitar and piano. Jerry’s Mom taught young Jerry Reed the first chords he learned on guitar before he went on to become a music superstar. Jerry with siblings Lee Wayne, Larry Dale, Roger, and Sherree and his parents moved from Anniston, Alabama to Yerington, Nevada when Jerry was 11. Winning a talent contest performing with brother Lee Wayne and another friend in 1952, Jerry did lead vocals on "Mansion in the Sky". After this, brother Roger says, "Dad brought the family back to Alabama hoping to get the boys out of secular music, but to no avail".

In 1955 they were living in Tuscumbia where Jerry met his future wife Margie who he married in 1958. Shortly after this, Jerry and Wayne got a daily 50-minute radio show on WHTB in Talladega doing rock ‘n roll. The show was very popular. Here at WHTB, Jerry met another musician who also had a show that was successful as well. His name was Bobby Mizzell. Because of their common love for rock ‘n roll, boogie woogie, and rockabilly music, they hit it off as friends and musical partners where they cut their first records together at the station - "You Are My Sunshine" and "You Don’t Love Me".

jerry woodard band wbrc
Jerry and Bobby arrived in Birmingham in 1956 to begin working on Country Boy Eddie’s morning TV show. They also worked on Tom York’s morning TV show. Here they formed their first band together. In 1956, Jerry started his own record label "Fad" – where he recorded the label’s first record "Six Long Weeks"/"Blue Broken Heart" backed by Jerry Reed on guitar and Charles Matthews on piano. He then followed with the rocking "Downbeat"/"Our Love and Romance". In 1958, he recorded for Reed his best known release "Who’s Gonna Rock My Baby" which was later recorded a little more bluesy and released again on Reed. The sound caught Chet Atkins’ attention at RCA Victor where they really toned it down and released it nationally where it had reasonable success as a teener record.

Around 1959 with both Jerry and Bobby having success on their own and each wanting to start their own band, they parted ways going in different directions with Bobby staying with his rockabilly and boogie woogie roots and Jerry going with "sweet type" music. Jerry formed the Esquires consisting of Dinky Harris on guitar, Doc Watson on bass, Barry Beckett on piano, Ronnie Eads on sax, and Johnny Carter on drums. With the Esquires, Jerry recorded more smoother sweeter pop sound records. They appeared on many radio programs at the time as well as performing live gigs. It was also in 1959 that Jerry’s daughter Georgenia Lee was born, with son Jerry, Jr. coming along in 1961.

Heart and Colvin record labels owner Charlie Colvin released a number of Jerry’s records on the Heart label, but the most interesting 45 is the 1960 release on his Colvin label. The song "You Just Wait", written by Kenny Wallis was pressed as the flipside of a song written by then bass player Henry Strzelecki called "Long Tall Texan". The record was also released on the Century Limited label out of Jackson, MS. The song fit Jerry well – as he could do any kind of narrative in the middle of a song. It did fairly well, but when Murray Kellum released it on the M.O.C. label, it went up the charts becoming a national hit for him in 1963.

Moving his family to Pensacola in 1961, Jerry played the Sahara Club there for two years. Following this success, he then started Jerry Woodard’s Cock Rouge club which burned to the ground devastating Jerry financially. Friends helped him start another club two weeks later and the Flaming Cock Rouge club flourished with Jerry performing to huge crowds until an IRS audit left Jerry in financial ruin once again. At this point, in 1967 Jerry and his family moved back to Birmingham and with help from brother Wayne released a record on the Chantain label. In 1968, he also had some success with a soul-flavored record on the Chant label.

Also in 1968, while working at the Domino Club in Atlanta, he was offered a gig at the Golden Isles Club in St. Simon’s Island on the Atlantic coast of Georgia. He moved his family there where, after this gig, he opened a new club called the Gilded Cage that he operated and played in until 1977 when the nearby Navy base began closing down. Jerry and Margie stayed there until his untimely death on August 9, 1980 from the toll his body had taken from the many years of performing – lack of sleep, hectic schedules, and the health effects caused by alcohol and drugs needed to keep up with such a life.

Jerry Woodard loved life and he loved music. Jerry fought an inner battle within his soul. Being brought up in the Church, Jerry struggled in his heart with playing the music he loved and wanted to perform. Maybe that struggle is what gave him the uniqueness he brought to all of his music. Everyone who ever heard him sing loved him – musicians, singers, producers, club owners, fans. Jerry had that rawness in his voice that was perfect for a rocker, but he could switch to a tender ballad with a warm softness in his voice that very few are blessed with.
Source: Birmingham Record Collectors
Photo source:

More info:
The Jerry Woodard Saga by Jerry Grammer
Rockin' Country Style discography
Video: Jerry Woodard-"Long Tall Texan"
Video: Jerry Woodard-"Big Louie"
Video: Jerry Woodard- "Speedway Rock"
Video: Jerry Woodard - Six Long Weeks


iTunes: Jerry Woodard And The Cavaleers and Jerry Woodard
Amazon: Jerry Woodard

Friday, May 3, 2013


Travis Pritchett, born 18 March 1939, Jackson, Alabama
Bob Weaver, born 27 july 1939, Jackson, Alabama

travis and bobTravis and Bob were one-hit wonders from Jackson, Alabama, a small town in Clarke County, with a population of 5,419 at the 2000 census. They attended the local grammar school together and had a common interest in making music. A DJ at WPBB, Jackson's hometown radio station, suggested that they go to Mobile to make a demo. A guy called Henry Bailey had a little sound studio there and was so enthusiastic about their song "Tell Him No" that he introduced Travis and Bob to Johnny Lee Bozeman and Paul Dubois, who owned the Sandy label in Mobile. Dubois and his brother Johnny recorded the duo in a garage in their hometown, Gulfport, Mississippi. "Tell Him No" was the first song Travis Pritchett ever wrote. The record took off immediately and the Sandy label, which had never had a hit before, arranged a deal with Randy Wood's Dot label to ensure that the record would get national distribution. By April 1959 the disc had climbed to # 8 on the Billboard charts. A cover version by Dean and Marc (the Mathis brothers, who had worked with Dale Hawkins and would later form the nucleus of the Newbeats) also charted, on the Bullseye label, peaking at # 42. There were other covers : by the Jackson Brothers (Atco 6139, issued in the UK on London HLX 8845*) and in the UK by the Mudlarks and the Lana Sisters, a trio that included a youthful Dusty Springfield. The Travis and Bob version was released in the UK on Pye Inter- national N 25018, but did not chart there, though it was a hit in several other European countries, like my native Holland, where it went to # 2.

The follow-up, "Little Bitty Johnny" (Sandy 1019) was issued in May 1959 and is arguably their best record. However, in Billboard it got no further than a "Bubbling under" position at # 114, and it spent two weeks on the Cash Box Top 100, peaking at # 95. "Oh Yeah"/"Lover's Rendezvous" followed soon thereafter, but sold even fewer copies and "Wake Up And Cry"/"That's How Long" (Sandy 1029, March 1960) was their swan song on Sandy, though an album's worth of stuff was recorded. "They had quit trying on us", said Travis. "They'd made some bucks, and they were satisfied. It woulda meant puttin' more money into us". Travis and Bob are sometimes compared to the Everly Brothers, but they were not in that league. A comparison to the Kalin Twins is more appropriate and for Mercury they cut one song by the Kalins, "The Spider And the Fly" (recorded prior to "When"). Wesley Rose, hot for a duo after losing the Everly Brothers, tempted them with 10 grand if they would sign to his Hickory label. But Bob Weaver had developed a deep mistrust of the music industry and would not go along with the plan. He and Travis parted ways, with Travis continuing as a solo act and songwriter. Travis Pritchett would later work in insurance for many years, eventually settling into the security business.
"Tell Him No" was the only hit Sandy Records ever had. The history of the label (1957-62) is told in some detail in the liner notes for the CD "Gulf Coast Grease : The Sandy Story, Vol. 1" (Ace CDCHD 595). The last sentence of those notes (by Ray Topping) is : "Sandy's hit makers Travis and Bob are not included on this collection as they will be featured on the next instalment of the Sandy story, with a whole CD of their own." That was in 1996. It is 2007 now and the CD still isn't there. One of several promises that Ace didn't keep. "Tell Him No" is available on an Ace compilation though, "The Golden Age of American Rock 'n' Roll, Vol. 5" (Ace 600).

There is, however, a CD featuring 14 tracks by Travis and Bob, probably their complete recorded output. The title is "Takin' A Ride With Travis & Bob and Jim & John": The CD also features 17 tracks by Jim and John (the Cunningham twins), who also recorded as the Twin-Tones. They wrote and recorded the original version of "Jo-Ann", a cover of which by the Playmates was a # 19 hit in early 1958. The Twin-Tones version was not released as a single in the USA (only on an RCA EP), but "Jo-Ann"/"Before You Go" was a single in Germany and Holland (RCA 47-9153) and I had that single 40 years ago. I remember that I liked the up-tempo "Before You Go", but not enough to keep it.
Acknowledgements : Wayne Jancik, The Billboard book of one-hit wonders (revised and expanded edition 1998), page 73-74.

* The X in London HLX 8845 is not a mistake (Atco had prefix HLE, later HLK). Apparently there was some involvement of the BigTop label.


Photo source:

More info:
Video: Travis And Bob - Tell Him No
Video: TRAVIS & BOB 1959
Rockin' Country Style Discography

Travis Wilbon Pritchett
PRITCHETT On 10-18-2010 at 5:08 AM Travis Wilbon Pritchett a noted singer/musician treasured by many left this earth to join his beloved wife and long missed friends and family. He will be much missed and long remembered. His music will live on. Visitation is October 22nd, 2010 from 5 PM until the services October 23rd at 10AM from Dean Holiness Church. Petty Funeral Home Atmore, AL.
Published in the Press-Register on October 22, 2010
Source: Travis Wilbon Pritchett Obituary: View Travis Pritchett's Obituary by Mobile Register


travis and bob the very best of
iTunes: Travis & Bob
Amazon: Travis & Bob The Very Best Of

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Jerry Weaver songwriter and recording artist

Born: Florence, AL
R&B Songwriter Frederick Knight
Source: Alabama Music Hall of Fame

jerry weaver love sick child 45"I've Been Lonely For So Long" is a pop-soul song recorded by American southern soul singer Frederick Knight. The song, written by Posie Knight (the singer's wife) and Jerry Weaver, was released in 1972 by Stax Records.
The producer of Louise Freeman’s second Shout single was Jerry Weaver, a well known and talented songwriter and singer most closely associated with Neil Hemphill’s Sound Of Birmingham set up in Alabama, whose own recordings are well worthwhile investigating. She stayed with Weaver for her only outing on Playboy, both sides of which he wrote, and both of which are right in that deep soul bag that she was so comfortable in.
Sources: and
Photo source:
Discog discography


sound of birmigham vol 1stax 50
iTunes: The Birmingham Sound: The Soul of Neal Hemphill Vol. 1 - Various Artists and Stax 50 - 50th Anniversary Celebration - Various Artists and
Amazon: The Birmingham Sound: The Soul Of Neal Hemphill Vol. 1 and Stax 50th: 50th Anniversary Celebration