Junior Parker

Gary: Christmas is less than a week away and I not even close to being ready.  Since returning home from South Carolina, my wife’s latest rebuild the house project has just finished, it was messy and time consuming.  I had a piece of siding fall off my house, water heater had a problem, furnace cleaning and we both got sick, just colds, but the first 21 days of December have been, to say the least, busy.

I have not been doing much in the creation department and we do not have a staff of writers, just me.  I had an idea a few days ago and have been researching it since then.  I think about when I was a Teenager (started 1953) and just how and when I fell in love with Rock and Roll.  Yes, I am aware that in the 70’s they called the early Sun Records Music, “Rockabilly”, but in 1953 it was just Rock and Roll.  I am also aware that Rock and Roll as I know it has not been active for over 15 years, no matter what anyone says. This is what turned me on and  caught my ear. 

The first song I remember really actually purchasing was Gee by the Crows

But what really caught my ear was the man from Tupelo Mississippi, Elvis Aaron Presley.  I absolutely love the Sun Recordings, they were difficult to get, but they were worth it.  I have been to Sun Studios, at 706 Union Ave, Memphis Tennessee. 

The first Elvis song, That’s alright Mama, I actually enjoyed the B side, Blue Moon of Kentucky more.  But the next 4 releases I loved.  The RCA transition had to exist but the Sun Recordings are my favourites. 

Of the 5 recordings 2 stand out for me, Baby Let’s Play House and Mystery Train.  Yes, the haunting guitar lick by Scotty Moore is one of my favourites.  Here is just the guitar lick by the Great James Burton and his Telecaster.

This was the first time I had heard the song and I of course thought it was original, wrong.  I heard a song by Hayden Thompson called Love My Baby

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I absolutely love the guitar riff and mistakenly thought if was original, wrong.

Now these songs belonged to the Sun Record Label but they were written and recorded by a man who I guess is unknown (not to me) in the world, he wrote and recorded both songs for Sun in 1953.  I write this post to pay homage to the great Junior Parker.

 Little Junior Parker

Videos:

There is very little film or video of Junior Parker, But here is a great version of Mystery Train / 2010 Crossroads / Vince Gill, James Burton, Keb Mo, Albert Lea, Earl Klugh just fantastic.  It’s a Telecaster Heaven /
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Music

In 1953 Little Junior Parker with his Blue Flames recorded 3 classic songs for Sam Phillips On the Original Sun Label.  To keep my friend in England happy these could have been 10” or 12” Shellac recordings.
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The first time I heard Love Me Baby was on Phillips International (Sam Phillips) 1957, a white Elvis singer / Hayden Thompson /
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Herman Parker Jnr., 3 March 1927, West Memphis, Arkansas, USA, d. 18 November 1971, Blue Island, Illinois, USA. Despite his later fame, some confusion still exists regarding the parentage and birth details of Little Junior Parker (Clarksdale, Mississippi, and 1932 are sometimes quoted, and his parents’ names have variously been cited as Herman Snr., Willie, Jeanetta or Jeremeter). It is certain that they were a farming family situated near enough to West Memphis for Little Junior (who had started singing in church) to involve himself in the local music scene at an early age. His biggest influence in the early days was Sonny Boy ‘Rice Miller’ Williamson, in whose band Parker worked for some time before moving on to work for Howlin’ Wolf, later assuming the leadership of the latter’s backing band. He was a member of the ad hoc group the Beale Streeters, with Bobby Bland and B.B. King, prior to forming his own band, the Blue Flames, in 1951, which included the well-regarded guitarist Auburn ‘Pat’ Hare.

Parker’s first, fairly primitive, recordings were made for Joe Bihari and Ike Turner in 1952 for the Modern Records label. This brought him to the attention of Sam Phillips and Sun Records, where Parker enjoyed some success with his recordings of ‘Feeling Good’, although the period is better recalled for the downbeat ‘Mystery Train’, which was later covered by the young Elvis Presley. His greatest fame on record stemmed from his work on Don Robey’s Duke label operating out of Houston, Texas, and it was along with fellow Duke artist Bobby Bland that Little Junior headed the highly successful Blues Consolidated Revue, which quickly became a staple part of the southern blues circuit. His tenure with Robey lasted until the mid-60’s, with his work moving progressively away from his hard blues base.

In his later days, Parker appeared on such labels as Mercury Records, United Artists Records and Capitol Records, enjoying intermittent chart success with ‘Driving Wheel’ (1961), ‘Annie Get Your Yo-Yo’ (1962) and ‘Man Or Mouse’ (1966). His premature death in 1971 occurred while he was undergoing surgery for a brain tumour. Parker was an important figure in the development of R&B.

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6 responses to “Junior Parker

  1. Wow, Amazing cuts. Take me back to those early fifties times listening to so called race music. Well done Gary & Russ

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