Thursday, 30 April 2015

Bea Wain born 30 April 1917

Bea Wain (born Beatrice Weinsier 30, 1917 in New York City) was a American Big Band-era vocalist.

Bea Wain was considered by many to be the best vocalist of her era. During the mid-1930s Wain sang with bandleader Gene Kardos. She also appeared on NBC's Children's Hour and as a member of Ted Straeter's Choir as well as with her own Bea and the Bachelors. The Bachelors consisted of Al Rinker, Ken Lane, and John Smedberg. The quartet performed on Fred Waring's radio program as part of the vocal group V-8, a combined effort with the Modernaires, before joining Kay Thompson in 1937, where they formed part of Thompson's Rhythm Singers.

Later that same year, while she and the Bachelors were working on Kate Smith's radio show, bandleader Larry Clinton offered Wain a job in his newly-formed orchestra based solely on the strength of an eight-bar solo he had heard her sing on Thompson's radio program. She accepted and quickly emerged as the band's star attraction, singing on their biggest hits, including "Martha" and "Heart and Soul".

On a 1937 recording with Artie Shaw she was credited as Beatrice Wayne, which led some to assume that was her real name. On record labels her name was shortened (without her
permission) to "Bea" by the record company, ostensibly for space considerations. As she explained, "They cut it to 'Bea Wain. They cut the 'Beatrice' out to 'Bea.' I was just a little old girl singer, but that's the truth. So that's how my name became 'Bea Wain'."

In 1939, she was voted the most popular female band vocalist in a Billboard, and that same year she began her solo career. She had four #1 hits:"Cry, Baby. Cry," "Deep Purple", "Heart and Soul" and her signature song, "My Reverie."

She is considered by many to be one of the best female vocalists of her era, possessing a natural feel for swing-music rhythms not often found among white singers of the day. With regard to technique, she excelled in pitch and subtle utilization of dynamics. She also communicated a feminine sensuality and sang with conviction in an unforced manner.

On May 1, 1938, Bea Wain married radio announcer André Baruch. Their honeymoon in Bermuda was cut short when Fred Allen called Baruch asking him to return to New York to substitute for his ailing announcer, Harry von Zell. They were married for 53 years. Baruch died in 1991.

The recording ban of 1942 marked the end of her commercial recording career. She continued to sing, perform, and appear on radio, however, throughout the 1940s. Bea and her husband worked as a disc jockey team in New York on WMCA, where they were billed as Mr. and Mrs. Music.
In 1973, the couple moved to Palm Beach, Florida, where they did a top-rated daily four-hour talk show for nine years before relocating to Beverly Hills.

The couple had two children: Bonnie Baruch and her husband, Mark Barnes, operate a vineyard in Northern California and run the Daisy Foundation, an organization which recognizes nurses for their critical role in patient care and supports research towards the cure of auto-immune diseases. Wayne Baruch has a career in the music and theatre business, and his wife, Shelley Baruch, is a theatrical producer and filmmaker.

In James A. Michener's 1971 novel The Drifters, characters discuss Bea Wain and her recording of "My Reverie" in two separate chapters of the book. In 2002, her recording of "My Reverie" was used in the Robin Williams movie One Hour Photo.

In a 2004 interview with Christopher Popa, she reflected: Actually, I've had a wonderful life, a wonderful career. And I'm still singing, and I'm still singing pretty good. This past December, I did a series of shows in Palm Springs, California, and the review said, "Bea Wain is still a giant." It's something called Musical Chairs. I did six shows in six different venues, and I was a smash. And I really got a kick out of it.  (Info edited from Wikipedia & Parabrisas)

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Russ Morgan born 29 April 1904

Russ Morgan (April 29, 1904 – August 7, 1969) was a big band orchestra leader and musical arranger in the United States during the 1930s and 1940s.

Best remembered for his ''wah-wah'' trombone style, Russ Morgan was born in Scanton, Pennsylvania, in 1904 and began studying music at an early age. Both his father, a coal-mine foreman, and his mother were former professional musicians. Morgan himself began to work in the mines at an early age to pay for piano lessons. At age 14 he earned extra money playing piano at a Scranton movie theatre and bought a trombone. He spent a year with the Scranton Sirens, working alongside Jimmy Dorsey, before heading off to New York in 1922, where he arranged for Victor Herbert and John Philip Sousa. He toured Europe with Paul Specht's orchestra in 1923 and a year later was invited to Detroit to arrange for Jean Goldkette.

Morgan soon left Goldkette to serve as musical director at WXYZ radio. He also arranged and played for the Detroit
Symphony. After a serious automobile accident in 1929 put him out of the music business and the stock market crash finished Detroit as a major music centre he went back to New York, where he found steady work writing arrangements and playing in studio orchestras.

Another automobile accident sidelined Morgan in 1933. Unable to play his trombone during a long period of recuperation he went to work for Freddie Martin in 1934 as a pianist and later became musical director at Brunswick Records. He formed his own orchestra in 1936 with the help of friend Rudy Vallee and spent the next two years at the Biltmore Hotel. He later served as a staff conductor at NBC radio and was musical director for the Lifebouy and Philip Morris radio series.

Morgan both sang and played trombone in his new orchestra, which used the famous moniker ''Music in the Morgan Manner.'' His music was soft, loose, easy-going, and well-blended, and had an infectious lilt. His style leaned toward the commercial, and he had a knack for knowing what the public liked.

After suffering financially in the early 1940s Morgan experienced his greatest popularity after the war. In 1949, four songs he recorded made it big on the charts. They were "So Tired", "Cruising Down the River", "Sunflower" and "Forever and Ever." On the latter he used a vocal quartet that was just starting out and would later become famous as the Ames Brothers. The Decca Records recording of Dogface Soldier, released to coincide with the film version of To Hell and Back, based on the best-selling novel by Audie Murphy, sold over 300,000 copies.

During the 1950s, his orchestra continued to be a popular one for dancing and listening music. He continued to set house records with his appearances in California and New York as well as his many tours across the entire nation. During this decade, it was mostly the long-established veteran "sweet bands" that were supplying the music for dancers, and Russ Morgan was one of them. The veterans included Jan Garber, Sammy Kaye, Wayne King, Guy Lombardo, Freddy Martin and Lawrence Welk.

In 1958, Morgan's nineteen-piece band had been reduced to eleven men, with his sons Jack Morgan on trombone and David Morgan on guitar. In 1965, he was then booked for an eight-week engagement at the Top O' The Strip at the Dunes Hotel in Las Vegas. However, it ended up lasting until 1977, a total of twelve years.

In 1969, Morgan died at the age of sixty-five in Las Vegas. Morgan’s son, Jack, took over the leadership and has led the band ever since. Morgan has a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contributions to recording. (Info from & Wikipedia)

From a recently discovered print of the original film, which includes two songs not shown in the 1980s video version of this film ("Meet the Band Leaders"). Also original credits and close. Band leader, trombone, piano: Russ Morgan. Singers: Lewis Julian and Linda Lee. Band members include 22-year-old Billy Fisher on clarinet and alto sax, featured in "Wabash Blues." Julian was a former NBC page when Morgan discovered him. Fisher also arranged for Morgan and later arranged for Ed Sullivan and Jackie Gleason as well as the Tony Awards.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Claudine Clark born 26 April 1941

Claudine Clark (born April 26, 1941, Macon, Georgia, United States) is an American R&B musician, best known as the singer and composer of the 1962 hit "Party Lights", which reached #5 on the Billboard Hot 100. 
Born in Macon, GA, Clark grew up in Philadelphia and received formal musical training at the local Coombs College, where she earnt a degree in music composition. She recorded her first single, "Angel of Happiness," backed by the Detroit Spinners in 1958 for the Herald label, but it failed to attract much attention, as did a brief stint at Gotham.  
Clark subsequently caught on with Chancellor, a label best known for teen idols like Fabian and Frankie Avalon. Her first single, "Disappointed," initially flopped, but when DJs started playing the Clark-penned flip side, "Party Lights," it became a huge hit. Sung from the point of view of a teenage girl ordered to her room while her friends were out having a good time, "Party Lights" struck a chord and shot into the Top Five on both the pop and R&B charts. 

Apparently she had recorded Party Lights earlier for another label, with a different tempo - maybe for Herald Records where she also worked briefly, turning out Teenage Blues b/w Angel Of Happiness on Herald 521 in 1958 billed as Claudine Clark & The Spinners. But as it would turn out, Party Lights would be it insofar as a hit single was concerned, which enshrined her in the One-Hit Wonder Club, as two follow-up releases failed dismally - The Telephone Game b/w Walkin' Through A Cemetary (Chancellor 1124 in 1962) and Walk Me Home b/w Who Will You Hurt? (Chancellor 1130 in 1963).

Switching things up, she released a single the following year as Joy Dawn ("Hang it Up"), then in '64 had a couple of singles on the Jamie label, including a remake of The Supremes' "Buttered Popcorn" (it hadn't been a hit for them either when released as their second single in 1961), followed by a couple of others over the next few years.
Clark later attempted to compose a rock & roll operetta, and also recorded for Swan under the alias Joy Dawn, all to little avail. In the mid-'70s she gave it another try with a single under the name Sherry Pye, but she was married by this time and focused on raising a family. Some gospel recordings followed, and she reportedly continues to sing regularly in church, while keeping her personal life out of the public eye.
The one smart move Claudine Clark made, it turns out, was getting her own composition on the B-side of that first Chancellor single. The radio airplay and many reissues of "Party Lights" have provided her with the royalty payments through the years that too many acts with even more than one hit have unjustly had to do without.  (Info edited mainly from All Music & Way Back Attack)

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Cliff Bruner born 25 April 1915

Cliff Bruner (né Clifton Lafayette Bruner; 25 April 1915 – 25 August 2000) was a fiddler and bandleader of the Western Swing era of the 1930s. Bruner's music combined elements of traditional string band music, improvisation, blues, folk, and popular melodies of the times.

Born in Houston, in 1915, a child of a poor, south Texas family,  Bruner learned to play fiddle at the age of 4, later boasting: ‘I could play fiddle before I could talk’. While still at school, he played at local dances. He had become an itinerant musician in his teens, carrying his fiddle in a flour sack, picking cotton by day and playing for cotton-pickers by night. Bruner was performing professionally and wandering around Texas in search of gigs by the late 1920s. The medicine show provided him with early employment, as it did for many other early country stars; he had signed on with Dr. Scott's Medicine Show, a travelling caravan hawking a cure-all called Liquidine Tonic.

In 1934, Bruner joined the path breaking Western swing band Milton Brown & His Musical Brownies, an act which billed itself as "The Greatest String Band on Earth." He cut close to 50 songs with the group before Brown was killed in an auto accident in April 1936; the twin fiddles often heard in the Brownies' music (setting a pattern that lasted for decades in country music) are those of Bruner and the classically trained violinist Cecil Brower.

After Brown's death, Bruner returned to Houston and formed a group called the Texas Wanderers (sometimes called Cliff Bruner & His Boys). The band settled into a slot on Beaumont radio station KDFM, whose listenership crossed the state line into heavily Cajun South-western Louisiana. As did other Western swing bands, this one fused traditional fiddle-led country music with elements of 1920s and '30s pop and jazz. But Bruner, from the start, favoured a strikingly contemporary sound. He brought the wildly experimental electric steel guitarist Bob Dunn on board from the Brownies and featured an electric mandolinist, Leo Raley, and an energetic barrelhouse pianist, Moon Mullican. the Texas Wanderers' recordings on the Decca label crowded jukeboxes along the oil-rich, heavily industrialized Texas Gulf Coast.
Cliff Bruner is an unsung star of the little-noted Country music charts that appeared in Billboard prior to 1944. His hit It Makes No Difference Now spent 20 weeks atop the chart. Other hits in 1939–1942 included "Sorry", "Kelly Swing", "I'll keep on loving you" and "When You're Smiling". Perhaps his most famous hit was "Truck Drivers' Blues", the first truck driving song. Many of these recordings featured Dickie McBride and future singer piano star, Moon Mullican, on vocals.

In the early '40s, Bruner dissolved the Texas Wanderers, but he continued to work with Mullican and with other musicians who were forging modern country music out of the forms of Western swing: he performed with former Texas governor W. Lee O'Daniel and with Louisiana governor-to-be Jimmie Davis. Bruner and Mullican headed a band called the Showboys, and he made some recordings for Mercury and for small Texas labels after World War II.

In 1950, Bruner's wife, Ruth, died from tuberculosis, and, for the sake of his two young daughters, he gave up professional music for the safety of the insurance business. When the Western swing revival flowered in the 1970s, however, he gained proper recognition as an enormously influential figure. He appeared on Johnny Gimble's 1980 LP Texas Swing Pioneers and his trio appeared in the 1984 Sally Field movie Places in the Heart. In the mid 90’s, he was still playing on weekend events with local musicians in Houston and, according to reports, he was still amazing younger musicians with his fiddling skills.
On August 25, 2000, Bruner's long lifetime of making music came to an end when he died due to complications from cancer and heart problems at the age of 85 in Texas. (Info edited mainly from All Music & Wikipedia)

Cliff performs Ted Daffan song "Over The Hill" . Accompanied by Shelly Lee Alley Jr. andThe River Road Boys at Stafford Opra House, Columbus, Texas March 30, 1996

Friday, 24 April 2015

George Tomsco born 24 April 1940

George Anthony Tomsco (born April 24, 1940) was one of the most popular and influential instrumentalists of Tex-Mex styled rock music. As one of the founding members of the Fireballs, George is a true rock & roll pioneer. In the late ‘50s and ‘60s, his guitar playing was ubiquitous on the radio waves with hits as “Torquay,” “Bulldog,” “Sugar Shack” and “Quite a Party.”
He was born and raised in Raton, New Mexico and has one sister, Alberta. His father ran a Conoco service station and he worked there part time when he was a teenager. Tomsco was always interested in music and in 1957, while still in high school; he started a rock and roll band “The Fireballs.” They never had music lessons; all the band members learned by ear. The Fireballs had a unique, popular sound, and they performed in the Raton High School to standing ovations. The original 1958 line-up was: George Tomsco (lead guitar), Chuck Tharp (vocals), Stan Lark (bass), Eric Budd (drums), and Dan Trammell (rhythm guitar).

The Fireballs. The photo was taken as the group had just started to become known and had recently been signed to a contract with Kapp Records. From left: George Tomsco, Stan Lark, Eric Budd, Don Trammel, and Chuck Tharp.

After high school, Tomsco attended the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro. He really wasn’t interested in school because he had always wanted to be a musician but didn’t know how to get into the business. The Fireballs continued to play on weekends in local clubs. One day someone heard him playing a home recorded acetate and remarked that the band should record their music. They auditioned for Norman Petty who owned a famous recording studio in Clovis, New Mexico. Petty liked their style and this started their career. In 1959 the Fireballs recorded their first release, Petty negotiated a contract for the group and they never looked back.

In addition to playing with the Fireballs, Tomsco played on numerous sessions in the late '50s and 1960s. Although he was most frequently heard as a session player on instrumental records that bore some similarity to those of the Fireballs, or with vocalists who were trying to imitate Holly, he was versatile enough to also contribute to sides by folksinger Carolyn Hester and soul artist Arthur Alexander.


George Tomsco's nimble guitar work was influenced by rockabilly, country & western, and Latin music. Although few fans would recognize his name, he was one of the most popular and influential instrumentalists of Tex-Mex styled rock music, finding particular favour in Britain with the Shadows, who covered some Fireballs songs.
In 1960 the Fireballs appeared on the Dick Clark Show and American Bandstand. Tomsco said that meeting Dick Clark was a great experience and this really helped their career. They recorded many albums in the next several years.
In 1963 they brought singer Jimmy Gilmer into the group and recorded “Sugar Shack.” This became the number one hit for five weeks and was the largest selling single that year and is perhaps their most well-known song.

By 1972, Gilmer and Lark had left the Fireballs, leaving Tomsco to carry on with just his guitar and replacement players. He sold insurance for a few years; Lark did technical work for local coal mines. When original singer Chuck Tharp rejoined Tomsco in 1989, Lark followed. The three original Fireballs performed from 1990 until Tharp’s death, in 2006.
In 1989 the Fireballs were inducted into the Norman Petty Walk of Fame and in 2001 they were inducted into the West Texas Rock and Roll Walk of Fame. Tomsco was introduced to the Huerfano Community Bible Church in Walsenburg through his sister Alberta. He joined the church band called Standfast. This band provides music at church and other functions around Walsenburg.


From left: Rick Dunn, George Tomsco, Carol Dunn, Lee Adams and Bruce Stevenson of the praise band StandFast.
Tomsco and Lark still played a handful of Fireballs concerts around the country for a few years and Jimmy Gilmer, today an artists’ manager in Nashville, joined them for a couple of shows. At present the Fireballs is in a state of “neutral/ idle,” according to Tomsco.
“I still perform as a guest guitarist with other bands in the U.S., England, Canada and Spain as George Tomsco of the Fireballs, playing instrumentals and vocal recordings from more than 50 years ago.”

George Tomsco didn't record on his own often, but a 30-song anthology consisting mostly of tracks he did with the Fireballs and as a session musician, The Tex-Mex Fireball album, was issued under his name in 1998.
(Info edited from All Music & World Journal Huerfano)

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Dale Houston born 23 April 1940

Dale Houston (April 23, 1940 – September 27, 2007) was an American singer who, along with his performing partner, Grace Broussard, hit the Billboard chart as Dale & Grace with two rock and roll singles. The first was the #1 gold record "I'm Leaving It Up to You" in 1963. "Stop and Think It Over" reached #8 in 1964. In his later years, Houston was reunited onstage with Broussard on several occasions.
Robert Dale Houston  was delivered by a midwife on a kitchen table in Seminary, Mississippi on April 23, 1940. The family later moved to Collins Mississippi, where Dale's father became a minister. By sixth grade, Dale began his musical training by taking piano lessons, but had to quit after three months, as his parents could no longer afford them. From that point on, Dale was self taught and polished his musical skills by playing and singing in church. Determined to make music his life, an 18 year old Dale recorded a song called "Lonely Man", which climbed to #75 on the national record charts. 
Dale was playing in Baton Rouge in 1960 when Montel Record executive, Sam Montel caught his act in a local bar. After listening to some of Dale's material, Sam decided that Dale was, in his words, "a pretty good writer" and signed him to compose exclusively for his label. Dale wrote and recorded "Lonely Room", "Bird with a Broken Wing" and "That's What I Like About Us", but none met with great success.  

In 1963, Houston was working in a bar in Ferriday, Louisiana, a town near Natchez, Mississippi. Montel approached Houston about teaming up with a female singer, Grace Broussard (born 1939) of Prairieville, Louisiana near Baton Rouge. Both had been singing in area bistros for several years - Grace with her brother, Van Broussard (who later released an album on the Bayou Boogie label). The two met and practiced on Montel's home piano for four hours. When Houston began to play a song written and recorded in 1957 by African-American performers Don and Dewey--"I'm Leaving it Up to You"--Montel, asleep in the next room, woke up screaming: “Play it again! That’s a hit!”  

The next day Sam took Dale & Grace to the recording studio where they cut 4 songs. Montel Records then released "I'm Leaving It Up To You" as a single and by October, 1963 it was the number one record in the nation, eventually knocked out of the top spot by The Beatles.  

The pair spent much of the rest of the year touring with Dick Clark's Caravan Of Stars and had Thanksgiving at Clark's house. While on tour in Dallas Texas, on Nov. 22, 1963, they were standing on a street corner waving at John Kennedy. His limo had just passed and was about two blocks away when he was assassinated.  

Dale and Grace followed their first hit with a song called "Stop and Think It Over" which went to #8 in 1964, but 'The British Invasion' and personal problems were starting to take their toll. Finally, in 1965, Grace had her fill and split from Dale. 

Dale carried on, teaming with Connie Sattenfield, to form a new 'Dale and Grace', although by this time, their style of Cajun-country rock was out of style and no major hits followed. Grace Broussard and her brother also toured as Dale and Grace. 

Twenty years later, Dale's wife, Patricia, played a part in reuniting Dale with Grace Broussard, who had also married. The two put their differences aside to sing together again for a while, but the reunion lasted just long enough to split Dale and Patricia.  

The other "Grace", Connie Sattenfield later teamed up with a man named Jimmy Jordan, who started using the stage name of "Dale". The pair recorded an album called "Dale and Grace - Together Again" and toured as "The All New Dale & Grace Show". The duo recorded a Gospel album called "Dale & Grace - In God's Hands" in 1998 and own Dale & Grace Ministries, as well as having a syndicated, Gospel radio show. Although the name of their act is the same, they make it clear that they are not the duo that sold over 7 and half million Rock 'n' Roll records, although many fans are often confused.  

Dale Houston continued on the road with his band and Grace Broussard sang as a solo act across the United States. They were inducted into the Louisiana Hall of Fame in 1997 and into the Gulf Coast's Hall of Fame in 1998.  

Dale Houston died on September 27, 2007 of heart failure at the Wesley Medical Centre in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, age 67. Interment was in Smyrna Cemetery in Collins, Mississippi. (Info edited mainly from Wikipedia & Classic

American Bandstand. August 01, 1964

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Ernie Maresca born 21 April 1938

Ernest "Ernie" Maresca (born April 21*, 1939, The Bronx, New York) is an American singer-songwriter and record company executive, best known for writing or co-writing some of Dion's biggest hits. 

He began singing and writing in a doo-wop group, The Regents, who later had a hit with "Barbara Ann". His song "No-One Knows" came to the attention of Dion DiMucci, who recorded it successfully with The Belmonts on Laurie Records, the record reaching #19 on the Billboard Hot 100 record chart in 1958. Maresca then began songwriting full time, writing "Runaround Sue" with Dion, and then "The Wanderer" - his biggest success, although his run of hits with Dion continued with "Lovers Who Wander" and "Donna the Prima Donna".  

He also wrote for a great deal of other artists throughout the 1960s, usually in a style that combined doo wop with the developing sounds of girl groups or Dion's boastful Bronx pop/rock; the Regents' modest modern doo wop hit "Runaround" was the biggest of these. Although he didn't think of himself as a singer, and was an average nondescript vocalist at best, he was persuaded to record as a solo artist. 
In mid-1962, he ended up with his one and only hit under his own name, "Shout Shout (Knock Yourself Out)." A fun if extremely basic rocker that used the same chord pattern that anchored Dion hits like "Runaround Sue" and added the dance-rock energy of bands like Joey Dee & the Starliters, it made number six. 

Maresca made an album in 1962, and continued to record, without success, for Seville through 1965 and then for Laurie during the remainder of the 1960s. He kept on writing for plenty of artists, too (often on the Laurie roster), and in that capacity had some modest hits with Reparata & the Delrons ("Whenever a Teenager Cries"), Bernadette Carroll ("Party Girl"), and Jimmie Rodgers ("Child of Clay," co-written with Jimmy Curtiss).
While some of his songs for Dion were classics, Maresca was a limited songwriter, many of his compositions limited to variations (or replicas) of the ascending, circular basic doo wop chord structures heard on Dion's "Runaround Sue," "The Wanderer," "Lovers Who Wander," and "Donna the Prima Donna." By the 1970s he was head of Laurie Records' publicity department, which concentrated on reissuing the label's catalog, and as of 2000 was working as a consultant to EMI and administrator for Laurie's publishing.  

Despite the success of Shout Shout stateside, little happened for the song on the other side of the Atlantic.  This changed dramatically when in 1982, twenty years after its initial success, a cover by British retro-band Rocky Sharpe & The Replays broke into the UK Top 20 singles charts. The renewed activity on the song led to a further cover later that same year - a French lyric version entitled Chante by Les Forbans. The French recording exploded onto the European scene, far outselling both its English counterparts. An official list of France’s best selling singles of all time broadcast in 2004 placed Les Forbans’ Chante at #8, not bad going for the kid from the Bronx who by his own estimation “couldn’t sing”.

(Info mainly edited from All Music & Wikipedia. *Some sources give 21 August as birthdate)

Monday, 20 April 2015

Johnny Fuller born 20 April 1929

Johnny Fuller (April 20, 1929 – May 20, 1985) was an American West Coast and electric blues singer and guitarist.  Fuller showed musical diversity, performing in several musical genres including rhythm and blues, gospel and rock and roll. His distinctive singing and guitar playing appeared on a number of 1950s San Francisco Bay Area recordings. 

Johnny Fuller was born in Edwards, Mississippi, but moved to Vallejo, California with his parents as a young child. As a child, he taught himself to play guitar and by his teenage years, he formed a gospel group known as the "Gold West Gospel Singers." By the early 1950's, he began recording for the Heritage Record label in Oakland, California. During this time, he taught himself to play the piano and the organ.  

Fuller recorded for a number of independent record labels, sometimes those associated with Bob Geddins. These included Hollywood, Flair, Specialty, Aladdin, Imperial and Checker Records. His debut recording was made in 1948 on the obscure Jaxyson record label, with a couple of gospel based songs. In 1954, he began a regular recording career which lasted until 1962. Fuller recorded twenty sides in 1954 alone for Geddins. 
Fuller had local hits with his singles "All Night Long" and the original version of "Haunted House," the latter of which was written and produced by Geddins. Fuller's ability to switch styles, saw him appear in late 1950s rock and roll package tours, performing on the same bill as Paul Anka and Frankie Avalon. While touring with these acts, he found time to record for the Aladdin and Rhythm Record labels. However, this same factor lost his black audience, which left him neglected in the 1960s blues revival. 
During the 1960's, he toured Europe and continued touring throughout the United States. By the 1970's, however, Fuller was limited to performing in local venues around the Oakland, California area. In 1974, Fuller issued his debut album, Fuller's Blues which was well received, but saw little commercial success. Fuller played at the San Francisco Blues Festival in 1973 and 1977.

He latterly worked as a mechanic in a local garage from 1968 to 1983 yet continued performing in the Oakland area during the 1980's. He died from lung cancer in Oakland, California, in May 1985, at the age of 56. (Info edited from Wikipedia & Findagrave)