The Blues Roots of Rock and Roll: ARTHUR "BIG BOY" CRUDUP. It made me sad to read about Arthur's career, we've talked before how so many of the black artists were short-changed by the Record Companies and Promoters, but his story is one of the worst. The son of Migrant Workers, Arthur found himself in Clarksville, MS, (remember that last train?) and began to perform as a Blues singer and joined the Gospel Group, "The Harmonizing Four" and traveled to Chicago.
When the group left the city Arthur went solo as a street singer, and almost starved to death. The Record Producer Lester Melrose claimed he found Crudup living in a packing crate and took him to meet Tampa Red who helped Arthur get a contract with RCA Victor's Bluebird label. Big Boy recorded for several more labels into the 50's and toured the Black Clubs of the South. He was a very prolific writer and wrote some famous songs including: "That's All Right", "So Glad You're Mine", and "My Baby Left Me."
You might recognize some of those titles as Hit Songs for Elvis Presley in the early days, it was the music he'd listened to on the radio at night as a young man. Meanwhile, Arthur was collecting almost nothing from the sales of his own records even though they were on radio shows and jukebox's across the South.
I'm embarrassed to tell you that his publisher, Hill and Range Songs, had to be confronted by Dick Waterman, a Blues Promoter, and finally agreed to pay Big Boy $60,000, but at the last minute they reneged and refused to sign the papers. Arthur Crudup, continued to tour into the 70's where his last dates were with Bonnie Raitt. Mr. Crudup died in 1974, of complications of heart disease and diabetes at age 68.
Fun Facts: Arthur Crudup was often referred to as "The Father of Rock and Roll," which he found amusing, and Elvis Presley said of him: "If I had any ambition, it was to be as good as Arthur Crudup." I actually hesitated to play this clip from him late in life, when he talks about hearing his music everywhere, yet not making money like Elvis was, it magnifies the horrible way he was treated by the music business.
Here's the Big Boy sitting on the front porch of his modest home, the grounds strewn with trash. But he sings "My Baby Loves Me" accompanying himself on guitar like the great Blues Man he was. May Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup's soul rest in the Blues Section of Cosmic Peace. @therealdonrocks
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