Arthur 'Big Boy' Crudup
"I went to the pub in Putney to see Arthur Crudup (My friend Don
reminded me of the story). He was delivered to the gig, put at a
table in the corner with a whiskey and left.
After a while some-one came and escorted him to the stage. He was
poorly introduced. He played a lack lustre first set with kids
talking and laughing.
During the break he was put back at his little table, and Don and
I were concerned that no-one was talking to him or accompanying him
so we went across and asked him about "That's All Right Mama" etc.,
he was delighted that some-one knew of him and his work and we
really raised his spirits - he tore 'em up in the second half.
Later, as we were leaving he came over to us and shook our hands
- enormous, black dry, calloused hands - it was an honour." - Andrew
Perry (see artist listing)
While Elvis Presley was busy 'borrowing' Arthur 'Big Boy'
Crudup's songs (That's All Right Mama was Elvis's first recording),
the man himself was all but giving up on the music business.
Born in Forest, Mississippi (August 24th 1905) Arthur Crudup
didn't get into music past gospel and Church choir till he went to
Chicago in 1939 where he learned and played guitar and sang on
It was in Chicago that music publisher Lester Melrose found him
and gave him his opportunity to record his first records for the
Bluebird race records series.
"In 1947, Arthur's relationship with Melrose ended after Crudup
found out he was not being paid royalties for his songs. He returned
to Mississippi where he operated a successful bootlegging business
and continued to record with RCA in the late l940s and early l950s."
quote Blue Flame Cafe website noted below.
Amongst the blues classic's written by Arthur 'Big Boy' Crudup
are Rock Me Mama, My Baby Left Me and Mean Ol' Frisco (one of the
earliest songs to feature electric guitar it is said). He toured
with Sonny Boy Williamson No 2 (Rice Miller) and Elmore James
(Arthur Crudup recorded for the Trumpet label in Jackson,
Mississippi as Elmer James. He also did some records as Percy
Arthur Crudup has been widely covered by blues artists including
B.B. King, Big Mama Thornton and Bobby 'Blue' Bland but it took
until the blues boom of the 1960s before he recorded again on the
Delmark and Liberty labels (The Fire label recorded him in 1960 but
had to wait till he finished working in the fields).
The tour Andrew Perry recalls above produced one excellent album,
Roebuck Man which was recorded in London (26th February, 1970) with
members of the English folk blues band McGuinness Flint. The vinyl
was released on United Artists Stereo UAS29092.
The Roebuck Man cover features Arthur 'Big Boy' Crudup leaning on
a lampost with his guitar case outside the Roebuck pub in London.
The sleeve notes contain some explanation:
"The compelling, abrasive title track was taped
just one hour after an unfortunate misunderstanding at a London
pub. This, "Big Boy" took so much to heart that he insisted a blues
was recorded around the incident." Chris Trimming and Ron Watts
(National Blues Federation)
and this cracking quote:
"The best known Crudup songs are probably 'That's All Right Mama'
and 'My Baby Left Me', both million sellers with Elvis Presley's
name on the label. Strangely enough, another Crudup song covered by
Presley was 'So Glad You're Mine', which BMI list as a hit by Arthur
in 1946. This is published by Elvis Presley Inc.! Elvis would have
been seven or eight years old in 1946." - Simon A. Napier, Editor,
A film documentary was made of Arthur Crudup's life called Born
In The Blues which was released in 1973. The following year Arthur
Crudup died on March 28th, 1974 in Nassawadox, Virginia, USA.
"It appears likely that, with his superior lyrics and wide
cross-racial popularity, Big Boy Crudup gave more to the blues than
he ever received in return." quote from Blue Flame Cafe website