Friday, January 21, 2011
Celebrity Grave: "Merry Christmas Baby" Musician Charles Mose Brown 1999
Charles Mose Brown (September 13, 1922 – January 21, 1999), born in Texas City, Texas was an American blues singer and pianist whose soft-toned, slow-paced blues-club style influenced the development of blues performance during the 1940s and 1950s. He had several hit recordings, including "Driftin' Blues" and "Merry Christmas Baby."
In the late 1940s a rising demand for blues was driven by an increasing white teenage audience in the South which quickly spread north and west. Blues shouters got the attention, but also greatly influential was what writer Charles Keil dubbs "the postwar Texas clean-up movement in blues" led by stylists such as T-Bone Walker, Amos Milburn and Charles Brown. Their singing was lighter, more relaxed and they worked with bands and combos that had saxophone sections and used arrangements.
As a child Brown demonstrated his love of music and took classical piano lessons. Early on, Brown moved out to Los Angeles, where the great influx of blacks created an integrated nightclub scene in which black performers tended to minimize the rougher blues elements of their style. The blues club style of a light rhythm bass and right-hand tinkling of the piano and smooth vocals became popular, epitomized by the jazz piano of Nat King Cole. When Cole left Los Angeles, California to perform nationally, his place was taken by Johnny Moore's Three Blazers, featuring Charles Brown's gentle piano and vocals.
Brown signed with Aladdin Records and his 1945 recording on that record label of the bestseller, "Driftin' Blues," with a small combo was a typical club blues song. The single was on the U.S. Billboard RandB chart for six months, putting Brown at the forefront of a musical evolution that changed American musical performance. His style dominated the influential Southern California club scene on Central Avenue during that period and he influenced such performers as Floyd Dixon, Cecil Gant, Ivory Joe Hunter, Percy Mayfield, Johnny Ace and Ray Charles.
"Driftin' Blues" was the first of several hits. Brown subsequently released "Get Yourself Another Fool," "Black Night," "Hard Times" and "Trouble Blues," all major hits in the early 1950s on such labels as Modern Records as well as Aladdin. He was unable to compete with the burgeoning rock and roll sound, though he maintained a small and devoted audience.
Brown's approach was too mellow to survive the transition to rock's harsher rhythms, and he faded from the national limelight. His "Please Come Home for Christmas," a hit in 1960 on the King Records remained seasonally popular. "Please Come Home for Christmas" sold over one million copies by 1968, and was awarded a gold disc in that year. During the 1960s Brown recorded a couple of albums for Mainstream Records.
In the 1980s he made a series of appearances at New York's club, Tramps. As a result of these appearances he signed a new recording contract with Blue Side Records and recorded One More for the Road in three days. Blue Side Records closed soon after but distribution was picked up by Alligator Records. Soon after the success of One More for the Road, Bonnie Raitt helped usher in a Charles Brown comeback tour.
He began a recording and performing career again, under the musical direction of guitarist Danny Caron, to greater success than he had achieved since the 1950s. Several records received Grammy Award nominations.
He is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and received both the National Endowment for the Arts' National Heritage Fellowship and the W. C. Handy Award.
Brown died of congestive heart failure in 1999 in Oakland, California, and was interred at Inglewood Park Cemetery, Inglewood, California.
1961 Charles Brown Sings Christmas Songs (King)
1964 Boss of the Blues (Mainstream)
1965 Ballads My Way (Mainstream)
1969 Legend! (Off-Beat)
1971 Blues N' Brown (Modern/Kent)
1978 Music Maestro, Please (Big Town Records)
1986 One More for the Road (Blue Side; later reissued by Alligator Records)
1990 All My Life (Bullseye Blues)
1992 Someone To Love (Bullseye Blues)
1994 Just A Luck So and So (Bullseye Blues)
1994 Charles Brown's Cool Christmas Blues (Bullseye Blues)
1994 These Blues (Verve/Gitanes)
1996 Honey Dripper (Verve/Gitanes)
1998 So Goes Love (Verve)
1999 In A Grand Style (Bullseye Blues)
Compilations and others
1995 Snuff Dippin' Mama (w/Johnny Moore's 3 Blazers) (Nigh Train International)
1995 Walkin' in Circles (w/Johnny Moore's 3 Blazers) (Nigh Train International)
1996 Johns - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Varese Sarabande VDS-5778)
1998 1944-1945 (Classics)
1999 Blue Over You - The Ace Recordings (Westside)
2004 Alone at the Piano (Savoy Jazz)
2010 Everyday Living, Hawkeye Herman (Blue Skunk Music)
1.^ Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues - From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books Limited. pp. 70–71. ISBN 1-85868-255-X.
2.^ Keil, Charles (1966, 1991). Urban Blues. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. pp. 255 + ix + 8pp of plates. ISBN 0226429601.
3.^ Gillett, Charlie (1996). The Rise of Rock and Roll ((2nd Ed.) ed.). New York, N.Y.: Da Capo Press. pp. 143–147, 316–317. ISBN 0-306-80683-5.
4.^ "Charles Brown."
5.^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 83. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
6.^ "West coast artists - Charles Brown."
7.^ Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee List
8.^ Lifetime Honors: National Heritage Fellowships
9.^ Blues Foundation: Past Music Awards
10.^ Thedeadrockstarsclub.com - accessed December 2009