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Monday, 31 August 2015

Todd Rhodes born 31 August 1900

Todd Rhodes (August 31, 1900 – June 4, 1965) was an American pianist and arranger and was an early influence in jazz and later on in R&B.
A talented and consummate musician, Todd Rhodes was a professional jazz veteran of some 26 years standing before he began recording with his own septet in the summer of 1947. Born in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, young Todd was raised by his widowed mother in Springfield, Ohio, and studied at the Springfield School Of Music and Pennsylvania's Erie Conservatory Of Music. Upon graduating in 1921 he returned to Springfield to hook up with drummer William McKinney, and he remained with McKinney's bands - notably McKinney's Cotton Pickers - for the next thirteen years. Rhodes was the pianist and one of the main arrangers for McKinney's Cotton Pickers, appearing on most of the band's most important recordings.
Leaving McKinney in late 1934, Rhodes played with various local bands in the Detroit area until he formed his own small unit in late 1943. By late 1946 the Todd Rhodes Orchestra was doing lucrative business at Lee's Sensation Lounge, and it was after seeing them there that Bernard Besman and John Kaplan decided to record the band for their new Sensation label in July 1947. By the end of that year the band had become known as "Todd Rhodes & His Toddlers" and their first four Sensation 78s had been picked up for the local Chicago market and re-released on Bill Putnam's Vitacoustic Records.

Understandably, the Rhodes band's music was on the jazzy side of jump and R&B, nevertheless they hit the Billboard R&B charts twice during their heyday; "Blues For The Red Boy", originally released on Sensation in 1947, climbed to #4 in late 1948 when it
was reissued on King, and "Pot Likker" went to #3 the following year with another King reissue of a Sensation cut. The former release reached even greater renown in the early 1950s when a then obscure Cleveland DJ called Alan Freed began using the record as his theme tune, rechristened "Blues For Moondog" to encompass his DJ pseudonym.
From 1951 Todd Rhodes & His Orchestra recorded for Syd Nathan's King Records in Cincinnati - Nathan having purchased the Sensation recordings by this stage - and the band stayed for three years, making their own recordings as well as providing the backing for artists such as Wynonie Harris and Dave Bartholomew. The band, itself, paraded a remarkable sequence of staff vocalists; from the tragic Kitty Stevenson, through Connie Allen and Pinocchio James, to the famous LaVern Baker.
 Like many musicians of their generation, however, the rock 'n' roll years were not kind to Todd and his band, and they made their last known recordings at Fortune Records with Andre Williams in the late 1950s. Todd found that he had diabetes, but due to his mistrust of the medical profession it was left untreated and he lost a leg as a result of his neglect in early 1965. Sadly, he never recovered enough to leave Wayne County Hospital, where he died in 1965.  (Bio mainly by Dave Penny @ Black Cat Rockabilly)


boppinbob said...

Awaiting link for Todd Rhodes - Blues For The Red Boy-The Early Sensation, so watch this space.

Unknown said...

This is the site, click on thhe link seven sentences below the sleeve of the cd and you can grab it!, regards Robert

boppinbob said...

Wow! Thanks (whoever you are)Once for your comment and Twice for the excellent link. That's two surprises I've had in succession. Things are definitely looking up!
Regards, Bob

boppinbob said...

Just got another link for requested album. Thanks to FredO @ The Rockin' Bandit blog too!