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…
(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 song “Doctor 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.