May 16, 2010

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(Percy Mayfield - Justifiably called The Poet Of The Blues)

This weeks installment of the Chronicles focuses on Percy Mayfield, one of the truly great Blues singer/songwriters from the late 1940's to 1970's. Probably more known now as a prolific writer whose work was performed by everyone from Ray Charles to Nina Simone. In fact, it was Mayfield who wrote the Ray Charles classic "Hit The Road, Jack" along with a slew of other songs made famous by Charles. Mayfield, early on in his career was also a singer and performer in his own right and chalked up many a hit on the Billboard charts during that phase of his career.

This interview, conducted in the offices of Specialty Records, the legendary label responsible for producing many of his early hits, features an exchange between head of A&R Barry Hanson (aka: Doctor Demento), Specialty owner Art Rupe and Mayfield on May 13, 1969. Only intended as a transcription for liner notes, it is one of the rare interviews with Percy Mayfield and the sound is a little raw in places. But it offers valuable insights to the artist as well as the period of time he was most active. It's a historic document with an important figure in the evolution of Rhythm & Blues.

And as a bonus, for those of you not entirely familiar with the work of Percy Mayfield the composer/performer, here is his first single for Specialty records and a Billboard #1 hit - Please Send Me Someone To Love, recorded on August 16, 1950 featuring Percy Mayfield and the orchestra led by another pioneer, Maxwell Davis.

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