HAPPY BIRTHDAY, PERCY MAYFIELD

Eric LeBlanc-CISTI leblanc@DAO.NRC.CA
Fri Aug 12 05:00:01 EDT 1994


 Singer/songwriter PERCY MAYFIELD was born on Thursday, August 12, 1920,
 Minden, LA., to Addis Carter & Pennsylvania Mayfield.  He is one of the
 most poetic of blues songwriters, with such standards as "Please Send Me
 Someone To Love", "Hit The Road, Jack", "River's Invitation", "I Need Love
 So Bad", "Memory Pain (It Serves You Right To Suffer)" and "Strange Things
 Happening".  As a singer is style is very unique.  According to Dick
 Shurman's notes to Route 66 KIX-22, he "demonstrates over and over most of
 the essentials of a polished, unique singing style marked by the use of his
 low bass baritone voice to growl, and to bend notes by flattening them and
 breaking them off, and his effective repetition of lyrics at the end of
 lines". His most productive period is with Specialty Records (1950-1954) -
 now on 2 necessary CDs - and his involvement, both as a (contract) songwriter
 and recording artist, for Ray Charles' Tangerine Records. "Hide Nor Hair",
 "Danger Zone", "Hit The Roads, Jack" were all hit records, written for
 Ray Charles.  His 2 Tangerine albums & 11 singles were produced by Ray
 Charles, and include the 1st recordings of "River's Invitation", "My Jug &
 I", "Stranger In My Own Home Town", and the wonderful "Ha Ha In The Day Time,
 Boo Hoo All Night Long".  Most of these Tangerine sides were arranged by
 Rene Hall and/or Gerald Wilson, featuring Ray Charles & Billy Preston.
 Percy Mayfield's next fruitful period was with RCA VICTOR, releasing 3
 albums between 1969 & 1971.  They all feature top NYC musicians including
 Seldon Powell (tenor sax), Eric Gale (guitar), Richard Tee (piano) and
 Bernard "Pretty" Purdie (drums).  His last studio album - for the Dutch
 Timeless label - features the Phillip Walker band.  Recorded in 1982, it's
 a masterpiece.  A live recording by Percy Mayfield is now available on
 WINNER, and well worth the price (see review below).  It features a rare
 recording of Percy playing the piano. As I'm posting this, his very first
 recordings (for Supreme Records) have been included on Capricorn CD 42024.

 PERCY MAYFIELD died on Saturday, August 11, 1984, Los Angeles, CA., one day
 before his 64th birthdate.  I advise all who are fans of Percy Mayfield to
 write for Mrs. Tina Jermany Mayfield's latest catalog at : TINA MAYFIELD
 PRODUCTIONS, P. O. BOX 82053, LOS ANGELES, CA. 90037.  If you're a fan of
 the blues ballad singers like Johnny Adams, Brook Benton, Charles Brown,
 Ray Charles, Billy Eckstine, Al Hibbler, Junior Parker, Arthur Prysock,
 Lou Rawls and Little Jimmy Scott, you would enjoy Percy Mayfield & his music.
 And don't forget to check out Johnny Adams's tribute to Percy Mayfield's
 music : ROUNDER 2095 : WALKING ON A TIGHTROPE

 DISCOGRAPHY
 ==========================================================================
 ACE (UK) 153         : PERCY MAYFIELD - MY HEART IS ALWAYS SINGING SAD SONGS
 BRUNSWICK 754145     : PERCY MAYFIELD - WALKING ON A TIGHTROPE
 CAPRICORN 42024      : VARIOUS - THE SWING TIME RECORDS STORY (2 CD)
 COLLECTABLES CD 5220 : VARIOUS - BLUES IS BIG AS TEXAS (2 cuts)
 HMV (UK) 3572        : PERCY MAYFIELD - (Tangerine recordings)
 INTERMEDIA 5010      : PERCY MAYFIELD - PLEASE SEND ME SOME TO LOVE (live)
 KINO ON VIDEO 26     : PERCY MAYFIELD - POET LAUREATE (video w/Mark Naftalin)
 MCA CD 9320          : VARIOUS - THE BLUES, V. 5 (1 cut)
 MCA CD 9330          : VARIOUS - THE BLUES, V. 6 - 50s RARITIES (1 cut)
 RCA VICTOR 4269      : PERCY MAYFIELD - SINGS PERCY MAYFIELD
 RCA VICTOR 4444      : PERCY MAYFIELD - WEAKNESS IS A THING CALLED MAN
 RCA VICTOR 4558      : PERCY MAYFIELD - BLUES AND THEN SOME
 ROUTE-66 KIX-25       : PERCY MAYFIELD - THE VOICE WITHIN
 SPECIALTY    2126    : PERCY MAYFIELD - BEST OF
 SPECIALTY CD 2172    : VARIOUS - BLUES FROM DOLPHIN'S OF HOLLYWOOD (3 cuts)
 SPECIALTY    5010    : PERCY MAYFIELD - THE INCREDIBLE
 SPECIALTY    7000    : PERCY MAYFIELD - FOR COLLECTORS ONLY
 SPECIALTY CD 7001    : PERCY MAYFIELD - POET OF THE BLUES
 SPECIALTY CD 7027    : PERCY MAYFIELD - MEMORY PAIN
 TANGERINE 1505       : PERCY MAYFIELD - MY JUG AND I
 TANGERINE 1510       : PERCY MAYFIELD - BOUGHT BLUES
 TIMELESS CD 170      : PERCY MAYFIELD - HIT THE ROAD AGAIN
 WINNER CD 445        : PERCY MAYFIELD - LIVE (w/Mark Naftalin)


                     CD REVIEWS : from All-Music Guide
                     =================================

 WINNER CD 445     : PERCY MAYFIELD - LIVE (w/Mark Naftalin)
 -----------------------------------------------------------
 The best part of being a reviewer is when the mail brings you a disc
 that you might go out and buy yourself. In other words, one with Percy
 Mayfield doing a dozen of his songs -- a disc just like this, his only
 live recording. The tunes were taped between l981 and 1983, the last
 about a year before Mayfield died at age 63. He was still in fine
 voice, and drew on his 30-year repertoire. Those whose notion of the
 blues follows the Chicago formula, or the guitar-harmonica raveup, may
 at first scratch their heads at Mayfield's unique, sassy voice, humor,
 intelligence and laid-back phrasing. Virtually every song is slow to
 medium tempo, leaving him time and space to glide lovingly over his
 lyrics, which were among the best in the blues tradition. This was the
 man, after all, who wrote "Hit the Road Jack" and "The Danger Zone"
 for Ray Charles, and "Please Send Me Someone to Love" for the whole
 world. Found here are versions of "Please Send Me Someone to Love,"
 "The River's Invitation," and "Don't Start Lying to Me." Mayfield gets
 sympathetic backing from guitarist Bobby Murray on "My Jug and I,"
 saxman Julien Vaught on "The Flirt," and saxman Dr. Wild Willie Moore
 on a couple of tracks. Throughout, he's accompanied by pianist Mark
 Naftalin, formerly a member of the original Paul Butterfield Blues
 Band. Naftalin produced the sessions and promises a follow-up disc of
 unreleased material from Mayfield's personal library. The closing
 medley of "My Bottle is My Companion" and "The Highway is Like a
 Woman" is a gem. Naftalin switches to organ and Mayfield makes a rare
 appearance on piano. For eight minutes, they swim through the blues,
 with Naftalin's solo fusing the two songs together. The atmosphere and
 Mayfield's voice almost conjure up classic Ray Charles -- no surprise,
 since classic Ray Charles surely owed something to classic Percy
 Mayfield. ~ John Douglas, Blues Access




More information about the Blues-l mailing list