Buster Brown!

Gary: “There is not a lot of information regarding a man, who at 50 years of age, finally had a Hit song.  This song would be adopted by a Toronto Band, called Robbie Lane and the Disciples, who my Blog Partner (Russ) knows a lot about.  But in 1960, this song got stuck in my memory and has been there ever since…

Buster Brown

(August 15, 1911 – January 31, 1976)

1.  Fannie Mae/Fire 1008/March 1960/# 38  # 1 R&B

Brown was born in Cordele, Georgia, and in the 1930s and 1940s he played harmonica at local clubs and made a few non-commercial recordings. These included “I’m Gonna Make You Happy” (1943), which was recorded when he played at the folk festival at Fort Valley (GA) State Teachers College, and was recorded by the Library of Congress’ Folk Music Archive. He moved to New York in 1956, where he was discovered by Fire Records owner Bobby Robinson.

In 1959 and at almost fifty years of age, he recorded the archaic-sounding blues, “Fannie Mae“, whose tough harmonica riffs (arranged by guitarist Riff Ruffin) took it to #38 in the U.S. Top 40, and to #1 on the R&B chart in April 1960.

His remake of Louis Jordan‘s “Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby” reached #81 on the pop charts later in 1960, but did not make the R&B chart.

Sugar Babe” was his only other hit, in 1962, reaching #19 on the R&B chart and #99 on the pop chart, but in later years he recorded for Checker Records and for numerous small record labels. He also co-wrote the songDoctor Brown” with J. T. Brown, which was later covered by Fleetwood Mac on their 1968 album, Mr. Wonderful.

Brown died in New York in 1976, at the age of 64.

It is often erroneously cited that Brown’s real name was “Wayman Glasco” – however, that was Brown’s manager who, after his death, bought all of Brown’s publishing – thus unintentionally creating the confusion. Though likely a nickname, or alias, Buster Brown may have been his birth name.



3 responses to “Buster Brown!

  1. That Fannie Mae riff was widely copied in blues/boogie piano circles. I suppose it pre-dated Brown but I learned it from him. I used it ALL the time when I played blues. I even called it “the Buster Brown” riff.

  2. In USA back in the 40’s, there was a children’s shoe store called Buster Brown. I don’t suppose anybody else would remember that little bit of trivia.

  3. I am Buster Browns niece ; I was looking for my uncle Buster’s recordings on the web.
    To my surprise this site came up with not only his history but, his photo (I cried) as soon as set my eyes upon him. He deserve to be remember. Uncle Buster was my favorite uncle, he used to set me on his lap and play his harp. he was a very kind person and helped ,trusted many people . I wanted to confirm that his real name is Buster Brown ,he was my father’s Older Brother his name is Sammy Brown he was a sing and made recordings such as” I’m in Love,”Head on collision with Love” he did opening act at the Apollo in Harlem NY, ;they did many shows together.
    Now getting back to my uncle Buster the recording company cutting the records he wrote music as well as singing his song and was cheated out of his royalties . As I recall he only received Ten Thousand Dollars from the song “Fanny Mae” Finally he went into a deep depression and Died a lonely man .the recording studios along with the people he trusted in the business ripped his dream away from him no longer to claim his vision he worked so hard for and we as the family supported . Now , we carry the torch of his vision to the youth not as victim , but as a victor in Gods Gift to the world.
    Thank you for remembering .

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