Sunday, September 04, 2011

Jimmy McCracklin

Jimmy McCracklin (born 13 August 1921, St. Louis Missouri) is an American pianist, vocalist, and songwriter. His style contains West Coast blues, Jump blues, and R&B. Over a career that has spanned seven decades, he says he's written almost a thousand songs and has recorded hundreds of them. McCracklin has recorded over 30 albums, and owns four gold records.


McCracklin joined the United States Navy in 1938, he later settle in Richmond, California, and began playing at the local Club Savoy owned by his sister-in-law Willie Mae "Granny" Johnson. The room-length bar served beer and wine, and Granny Johnson served home-cooked meals of greens, ribs, chicken, and other southern cuisine. A house band composed of Bay Area--based musicians alternated with and frequently backed performers such as B.B. King, Charles Brown, and L. C. Robinson. Later in 1963 he would write and record a song "Club Savoy" on his I Just Gotta Know album.

His recorded a debut single for the Globe Records "Miss Mattie Left Me" in 1945, and recorded "Street Loafin' Woman in 1946. McCracklin recorded for a number of labels in Los Angeles and Oakland, prior to touching down with Modern Records in 1949-1950. He formed a group Jimmy McCracklin and His Blues Blasters in 1946, with guitarist Lafayette Thomas who remained with group until the early 1960s.

His popularity increased after appearing on the TV pop Dick Clark's American Bandstand in support of his self written single "The Walk" (1957), a good groove that Checker Records put on the market in 1958. It went to #5 on the R&B chart and #7 on the pop charts, after more than 10 years of McCracklin selling records in the black community on a series of small labels. Jimmy McCracklin Sings, his first solo album, was released in 1962, the style is of West Coast blues. In 1962, McCracklin recorded "Just Got to Know" for his own Art-Tone label in Oakland, after the record made No. 2 on the R&B charts. For a brief period in the early 1970s Jimmy McCracklin ran the Continental Club in San Francisco, dubbed "the Coliseum of the Oakland blues". He booked major blues acts like T-Bone Walker, Irma Thomas, Big Joe Turner, Big Mama Thornton, and Etta James. In 1967, Otis Redding and Carla Thomas had success with "Tramp", a song credited to McCracklin and Lowell Fulson. Salt-n-Pepa made a hip-hop hit out of the song in 1987. Oakland Blues (1986) is an album arranged/directed by McCracklin, and produced by World Pacific.

McCracklin continued to tour and produce new albums in the 1980s and 1990s. Bob Dylan has cited McCracklin as a favorite. He has played at the legendary San Francisco Blues Festival in '73, '77, '80, 81, '84 and 2007. He was given a Pioneer Award by the Rhythm and Blues Foundation in 1990, and the Living Legend and Hall of Fame award at the Bay Area Black Music Awards, in 2007.

Selected discography
Year Title Genre Label
2007 1951-1954 West Coast blues Classics
2004 1948-1951 West Coast blues Classics
2003 1945-1948 West Coast blues Classics
2003 Jumpin Bay Area 1948-1955 West Coast blues P-Vine Japan
1999 Tell It to the Judge! West Coast blues Gunsmoke
1997 The Walk: Jimmy McCracklin at His Best West Coast blues, Soul-Blues Razor & Tie
1994 A Taste of the Blues West Coast blues Bullseye Blues
1992 The Mercury Recordings West Coast blues, Soul-Blues Bear Family
1991 Jimmy McCracklin: My Story West Coast blues Rounder
1991 My Story West Coast blues Rounder
1981 All His Bluesblasters West Coast blues Ace
1978 Rockin' Man West Coast blues Stax
1972 Yesterday Is Gone West Coast blues Stax
1971 High on the Blues West Coast blues Stax
1969 Stinger Man Soul-Blues Minit
1968 Let's Get Together West Coast blues Minit
1966 New Soul of Jimmy McCracklin West Coast blues Imperial
1966 My Answer West Coast blues Imperial
1965 Think West Coast blues Imperial
1965 Every Night, Every Day West Coast blues Imperial
1963 My Rockin' Soul West Coast blues United
1963 I Just Gotta Know West Coast blues Imperial
1962 Jimmy McCracklin Sings West Coast blues Chess


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