Charles Brown (1922-1999) was both an outstanding dulcet-toned blues singer and a superlative pianist
who was a key figure in the 1940's development of the style known as west coast blues.
He began his recording career as a member of Johnny Moore's Three Blazers whose memorable line-up
was Charles on vocals and piano, Johnny Moore on guitar and Eddie Williams on bass.
Their first real success was with DRIFTING BLUES
also known as DRIFTIN' BLUES and WALKING AND DRIFTING.
The song was written by Charles but credited not only to him but also Messrs. Moore and Williams.
Recorded in September 1945, it became a #2 R&B hit in '46 on Philo, Eddie and Leo Mesner's
Los Angeles-based label, the name of which was swiftly changed to Aladdin. Johnny Moore was the brother
of Oscar Moore, guitarist with The King Cole Trio.
DRIFTIN' BLUES remains one of the most revived blues songs and among other artists who released their own versions over the years were Chuck Berry, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Bobby 'Blue' Bland, Ray Charles, Boozoo Chavis, Eric Clapton, Clifton Chenier, Sam Cooke, Snooks Eaglin, Billy Eckstine with Count Basie, Lowell Fulson, John Hammond, John Lee Hooker, Albert King, B.B. King, Little Walter, John Mayall,
The Steve Miller Band, Della Reese and Pete Townshend.
Other successful songs recorded by Johnny Moore's Three Blazers featuring Charles Brown included
NEW ORLEANS BLUES (in 1947 on Exclusive Records and written by Leon Rene, (Exclusive's owner)
and MERRY CHRISTMAS BABY, also on Exclusive in '47, written by Charles but officially credited
only to Lou Baxter and Johnny Moore.
MERRY CHRISTMAS BABY is another major copyright boosted by cover versions by such as Otis Redding,
Elvis Presley, B.B. King, Rod Stewart, Sheryl Crow and Bruce Springsteen.
In 1948, Charles was signed as a solo artist on Aladdin and logged up a series of R&B best-sellers including
GET YOURSELF ANOTHER FOOL (Edward Mitchell) (#4 in'48),
TROUBLE BLUES (Charles Brown) (#1 in '49)
IN THE EVENING WHEN THE SUN
GOES DOWN (Traditional) (#4 in '49), HOMESICK BLUES (Charles Brown) (#5 in '49),
MY BABY'S GONE (Charles Brown) (#6 in '50), BLACK NIGHT (Jessie Mae Robinson) (#1 in '51),
and SEVEN LONG DAYS (Jessie Mae Robinson) (#2 in '51). Another important Charles Brown copyright is
PLEASE COME HOME FOR CHRISTMAS (Charles Brown/Gene Redd) which he first recorded for King in 1960.
Today, we are today launching a new podcast containing an interview that I recorded in 1991 with
Charles which was edited by Andrew Mackenzie as a promotional sampler for EMI Music Publishing.
Charles had been appearing at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and I invited him to help me put together
a sampler to promote both his own compositions and recordings that he made over the years of
other writers' songs. The interview took place in EMI Publishing's studio on Sunset Boulevard
with Charles seated at the piano.
In addition to the extracts that I play from original records, he sang and played live.
The sampler includes the following songs: DRIFTIN' BLUES (Charles Brown/Johnny Moore/Eddie Williams),
IF I HAD YOU (Ted Shapiro/James Campbell/Reginald Connelly), AGAIN (Lionel Newman/Dorcas Cochran),
PLEASE DON'T DRIVE ME AWAY (Charles Brown/Jesse Ervin), HONEY SIPPER (Charles Brown/Linda Woodward),
THAT OLD FEELING (Sammy Fain/Lew Brown), I'M SAVING MY LOVE FOR YOU (Charles Brown),
BLACK NIGHT (Jessie Mae Robinson), TROUBLE BLUES (Charles Brown), SEVEN LONG DAYS
(Jessie Mae Robinson/Charles Brown), BAD BAD WHISKEY (Amos Milburn), THE MESSAGE
(Clarence Landry) and DRIFTIN' BLUES (Charles Brown/Johnny Moore/Eddie Williams)
Click on the Soundcloud player below to stream the complete one hour Charles Brown podcast:
Charles Brown in conversation with Alan Warner.
The interview was conducted in 1991 and originally
commissioned for promotional use by EMI Music Publishing.
Charles was just one of a number of highly influential Texas-born bluesmen.
To close this blog, here are a few tracks reminding us of some of the others...
BLUES AFTER HOURS (Pee Wee Crayton)
by Pee Wee Crayton (Modern: 1948)
CALL IT STORMY MONDAY (But Tuesday Is Just As Bad) (Aaron Walker)
by T-Bone Walker (Black And White: 1947)
FROSTY (Albert Collins)
by Albert Collins (Hall: 1965)
HIDE AWAY (Freddy King/Sonny Thompson)
by Freddy King (Federal: 1961)
I QUIT MY PRETTY MAMA (Ivory Joe Hunter/Lois Mann)
by Ivory Joe Hunter (King: 1950)
ROOMIN' HOUSE BOOGIE (Jessie Mae Robinson)
by Amos Milburn (Aladdin: 1949)
"If you enjoyed this week's edition of The Door To Yesterday,
there's more where that came from!"
EMI Music Publishing is now part of Sony/ATV and Capitol Records is now owned by Universal Music Group;
the references I made during the interview both to EMI and to Capitol reflect the ownership of those companies
in 1991. In addition, Bullseye Blues is a Rounder Records label; Rounder is now part of the Concord Music Group.
© Alan Warner, 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Alan Warner with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.