Today (14 April) at 3pm USA CDT or 9pm UK

Nice to see the USA respects its blues singers

It’s
not me saying Jimmy Rushing is the daddy of all blues singers, it’s a quote
from the late great jazz pianist, Dave Brubeck, but I have to say Dave has a
point. I’ve only just become familiar with the incredible voice of the original
JR (Jimmy Rushing) while researching a radio podcast I’ll be doing on Code Zero
Radio on Saturday at 3pm U.S. Central Daylight Time or 9pm in the UK. Here’s
the link if you can make it.

The actual podcast is
about Eddie Durham, who cut what I claim is the first commercial electric guitar recording ever, back in 1935. Eddie joined Bennie Moton’s Kansas City Orchestra in
1929 and the next link features the wonderful Jimmy Rushing singing a track called “That Too
Do” for Bennie Moton in 1930.
To gauge the historical
value of this great jump blues vocal, just consider that Robert Johnson made his seminal blues recordings
some seven years later, in 1937.
Born in Oklahoma City in
1901, Jimmy Rushing toured the Mid-West and California as an itinerant blues singer, before
teaming up with pianist Jelly Roll Morton in LA in 1924. Rushing was later Count Basie’s
vocalist for 13 years, from 1935 to 1948; and the Count claimed Rushing had no equal as
a blues singer. Here’s Jimmy singing a Count Basie standard, “Going To Chicago”,
with the Benny Goodman Orchestra in Belgium in 1958.
Jimmy Rushing also
guested for Duke Ellington and toured Britain in 1958 with the highly regarded Humphrey
Littleton Band.
As you can see from the press cutting (left), Jimmy was
not exactly the most slender of men. Indeed he was known as “Mr Five by Five”, and that was also the
title of popular song written about him, which became a hit record in 1942. 
“He’s
five feet tall and he’s five feet wide”, went the lyrics.
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