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Sunday, 9 July 2017

Joe Liggins born 9 July 1916


Joseph Christopher "Joe" Liggins, Jr. (born Theodro Elliott; July 9, 1916 – July 26, 1987) was an American R&B, jazz and blues pianist and vocalist who led Joe Liggins and his Honeydrippers in the 1940s and 1950s. His band appeared often on the Billboard magazine charts. The band's biggest hit was "The Honeydripper", released in 1945. Joe Liggins was the older brother of R&B performer Jimmy Liggins. 

The son of Harriett and Elijah Elliott, he was born in Guthrie, Oklahoma, and took his stepfather's surname, Liggins, as a child. He apparently dropped the name Theodro and adopted the names Joseph Christopher during the 1930s. The family moved to San Diego in 1932. He studied music and arranging at the local State College. He began playing piano, trumpet and drums with various local bands in 1933. 

By 1939 he was ready to move up to Los Angeles and try his luck. One of his earliest bands there included future saxophone legend Illinois Jacquet. While working with Sammy Franklin's California Rhythm Rascals, Liggins wrote a tune called "The Honeydripper", which would become his signature song. Reluctance on Franklin's part to record "Honeydripper" caused Joe to form his own band, the Honeydrippers, in 1944.  

Joe Liggins' Honeydrippers was formed in the basement of the Los Angeles home of the saxophonist Little Willie Jackson, who co-founded the group and who, at the time of his death in 2001, was the last original surviving member of the Honeydrippers.
 
 
                     

The band were packing them in with "The Honeydripper" at the Samba Club in early 1945, when Leon Rene (owner of Exclusive Records) came to check out what all the fuss was about. He arrived early in the evening, but Liggins told him that if he wanted to hear "The Honeydripper", he would have to wait until 11:45, like every night. It was a long song, 15 minutes, and saved for the climax of the show, which had to end at midnight, as there was still a wartime curfew. Leon did wait and was treated to an evening's worth of Joe Liggins songs, which made him even more determined to record the band. "The Honeydripper" was cut down to six minutes, and divided over two sides of Joe's first release on Exclusive. 

It was a giant hit, reportedly selling 2 million copies, and topping the R&B charts for 18 weeks (still a record, jointly with Louis Jordan's "Choo Choo Ch'Boogie" from 1946). It also crossed over to the pop charts (# 13), as did the # 2 hit from 1946, "Got A Right To Cry" (# 12 pop). Other Liggins hits on Exclusive included "Left A Good Deal In Mobile" (# 2), "Tanya" (# 3), "Blow Mr. Jackson" (# 3), "Dripper's Blues" (# 9) and "Roll 'Em" (# 9), all between 1945 and 1948. 

The success of "Honeydripper" put Joe on the road and for the next five years he was constantly touring. In 1949, Exclusive Records went bankrupt, due to bootlegging, the inability to adjust to the introduction of the 45 RPM record and other calamities. Art Rupe, the president of Specialty Records, wanted to buy Exclusive's masters of Joe's hits for reissue on Specialty. When he couldn't come to terms with the creditor's committtee, Rupe signed Liggins to Specialty (Joe's younger brother Jimmy was already contracted to the label) and had him rerecord several of his Exclusive tracks. Some say the Specialty remakes of "The Honeydripper" and "I've Got A Right To Cry" are superior to the original versions and the condensed 1950 arrangement of "Honeydripper" is now the better known version.  

In 1950, Joe had two big hits, "Rag Mop" (# 4 R&B) and "Pink Champagne" (# 1 for 13 weeks, the biggest R&B record of 1950). Over the next three years, Joe continued to come up with good songs, good records and solid if unspectacular sellers. But he was unable to adapt to changing times. By 1954 his records sounded tame compared to the popular R&B hits of the day and Rupe dropped him.


Subsequent recordings for Mercury, Aladdin, Vita and Dot went nowhere amidst the rock 'n' roll turmoil. Liggins returned to Mercury in 1962, where he cut an album of his old hits along with some new songs aimed at the twist market, alas to no avail. That was his last major label affiliation. Some scattered sides on obscure labels fill out the Joe Liggins discography. He kept his own Honeydrippers working right up until his death, at age 71, on July 31, 1987. The honey never stopped dripping.
 
(Info edited mainly from rockabilly.nl)

Here's Joe Liggins & The Honeydrippers performing The Honeydripper Los Angeles 1983.

2 comments:

boppinbob said...

For “Joe Liggins - The Greatest Hits 1945-1957” go here:

http://www93.zippyshare.com/v/mlqGeMQQ/file.html

1. THE HONEYDRIPPER (Part 1)
2. THE HONEYDRIPPER (Part 2)
3. I'VE GOT A RIGHT TO CRY
4. TANYA
5. BLOW MR JACKSON
6. SWEET GEORGIA BROWN
7. DRIPPER'S BLUES
8. ROLL 'EM
9. SWEET AND LOVELY
10. THE DARKTOWN STRUTTERS' BALL
11. RAG MOP
12. PINK CHAMPAGNE
13. LITTLE JOE'S BOOGIE
14. FRANKIE LEE
15. BOB IS MY GUY
16. ONE SWEET LETTER
17. WHISKEY GIN AND WINE
18. LOUISIANA WOMAN
19. CRYIN' OVER YOU
20. EVERYONE'S DOWN ON ME
21. TEARS ON MY PILLOW
22. DO YOU LOVE ME PRETTY BABY
23. WHISKEY, WOMEN AND LOADED DICE
24. THEY WERE DOING THE MAMBO
25. YEAH, YEAH, YEAH
26. HONEYDRIPPIN' DADDY
27. GO AHEAD

Joe Liggins was one of the top rhythm and blues performers of the immediate post war years. He enjoyed 13 Billboard R&B Chart hits between 1945 and 1951 at which point it was all over for him as a chart star but as this 27 track compilation illustrates he could still turn out great sounding records and was a popular live performer as well.
Hits include: 'I've Got A Right To Cry'; 'Tanya'; 'Blow Mr Jackson' and of course the two undeniable classics of r&b music, 'The Honeydripper' and 'Pink Champagne'.
This is a must for fans of classic blues music and especially blues piano players such as Pinetop Perkins.


Also found these two at the Be Bop Wino Blog
A big thank you to boogiewoody for active links.

For “Joe Liggins - The Honeydripper” go here:

http://www96.zippyshare.com/v/jUN52yGk/file.html

1. The Honeydripper Part 1
2. The Honeydripper Part 2
3. Left A Good Deal In Mobile (v – Herb Jeffries)
4. Key Jam
5. How Come
6. Apple Of My Eye
7. Doddle-Do-Da-Deet
8. Yvette
9. Drippers' Boogie Part 1
10. Drippers' Boogie Part 2
11. Lonesome Guitar
12. You Ain't Goin' To Heaven No How
13. Three O'Clock Jump Part 1
14. Three O'Clock Jump Part 2
15. Some Of These Days
16. Ruth

For “Joe Liggins & his Honeydrippers - Darktown Strutters Ball” go here:

http://www93.zippyshare.com/v/4QZ4uLXs/file.html

1. Miss Betty's Blues (1946, Exclusive 213)
2. Got Your Love In My Heart (Herb Jefferies, April 20, 1945)
3. Caravan (April 20, 1945, Exclusive 216)
4. I Know My Love Is True (1946, Exclusive 212)
5. Got A Right To Cry (April 20, 1945, Exclusive 210)
6. Walkin' (late 1946, Exclusive, 242)
7. Tanya (July 8, 1946, Exclusive 231)
8. Sugar Lump (April 20, 1945, Exclusive 219)
9. The Darktown Strutters Ball (1947, Exclusive 49X)
10. Downhome Blues (1947, Exclusive 250)
11. Breaking My Heart (July 8, 1946, Exclusive 231)
12. Sweet Georgia Brown (1947, Exclusive 271)
13. The Blues (late 1946, Exclusive, 244)
14. Loosiana (1948, Exclusive 132X)
15. Spooks Holiday (1947, Exclusive, 49X)
16. Daddy On My Mind (April 24, 1950, Specialty 379)

Pudge said...

Thanks for this great music Bob.