Clyde Mcphatter: A Biographical Essay by Colin Escott
112 pages/Seiten; 22/15cm; rare pictures/seltene Bilder; Paperback. Superb biography with discography (chronological/numerical/alphabetical)
Who was the greatest vocalist in the pre-soul black music? Was it Sam Cooke? Little Willie John? Big Joe Turner? the Silvertones' Rev. Claude Jeter?
By most criteria, McPhatter went against the grain. Black music is full of voices that are full, deep and rich. Clyde McPhatter sang in a high, almost strangulated, tenor. It was not without precedent, but it was distinctly unusual. What made McPhatter truly outstanding though was the emotion that he communicated. There is a scorching intensity to his best work that transcends the often trite material and occasionally dated arrangements. At his best, he was truly
Yet, like so many other brilliant artists, he had self-destruction buttons implanted all over him. His life did not end in a sordid murder like Sam Cooke, nor did it end in jail like Little Willie John. Instead, McPhatter, riddled throughout his life with self-doubt and reprobation, slowly killed himself with alcohol. For those who loved him or his music, it was a bleak and humiliating demise.
Clyde McPhatter had been one of the biggest stars in rock & roll but when the hits dried up and the applause grew fainter, he drifted into a self-destroying hell. He was crippled by a combination of alcohol and gnawing personal problems to the point where he could barely capitalise upon his status as a faded hitmaker from the '50s and could certainly not attempt a comeback in soul music, a genre he had helped to define.
His influence can be felt everywhere. Some artists such as Dee Clark started their careers as Clyde McPhatter copyists; others such as Smokey Robinson openly acknow-ledge their debt to him. He was second only to Sam Cooke in terms of the number of artists who cite him as a major influence. Even in the Caribbean, singers such as Owen Gray modelled their style upon his. Elvis Presley was a true fan. He dipped into his Clyde McPhatter collection throughout his long career and even went on record as saying that he wished he could sing like Clyde. Tom Jones may have put more sweat into Without Love but he only managed a poor shadow of McPhatter's passion.
This year, Clyde McPhatter would have been fifty-five years old. Instead, he has been dead for fifteen years. All we have left are a few video clips, some photographs and the recordings. This book was designed to accompany the Bear Family Records retrospective of McPhatter's MGM and Mercury recordings. However, it is also the first attempt at a fairly detailed biography. Clyde McPhatter was an introverted and uncommunicative nerson_ even to those bring a degree of guesswork to some of the problems he faced. It also means that the biography is nowhere near as full and complete as it should be for an artist of McPhatter's stature. However, that prob-lem is far easier to come to terms with than reconciling the tremendous respect that one feels for the man's work and the frustration at recording the pitiable depths to which he sank.
Article properties: Clyde Mcphatter: A Biographical Essay by Colin Escott
Interpret: Clyde Mcphatter
Album titlle: A Biographical Essay by Colin Escott
- Sprache Englisch
- Biographies & Memoirs
- Seiten 112
- Einband Taschenbuch
- Verleger Bear Family Records
- Größe 15 x 22 x 0,7 cm
- Autor Colin Escott
- ISBN-13 9783924787103
- Year of publication 1897
- ISBN-10 3924787107
- weight in Kg 0.21
No lead tenor was as monumentally influential to the future of R&B vocal groups as The Dominoes' Clyde McPhatter. He was the first to incorporate an overt gospel influence into his impassioned leads, influencing everyone from Smokey Robinson to Aaron Neville to most of Clyde's successors with The Drifters. If it had been up to Billy Ward, the Dominoes' iron-fisted founder, Clyde would have reined in his sanctified tendencies and sounded like The Ink Spots' Bill Kenny. Thank goodness Clyde didn't listen to his boss. Ward was born September 19, 1921 in Savannah, Georgia but mostly grew up in Philadelphia. A gifted piano composer at age 14, he went on to study music at the prestigious Juilliard School. After an Army stint, Ward was working in New York as a vocal coach when he met talent agent Rose Marks. The two would co-manage The Dominoes until her 1955 death.
The group started out as The Ques in 1950, Ward bringing together McPhatter (born November 15, 1931 in Durham, North Carolina), tenor Charlie White, baritone Joe Lamont, and bass Bill Brown. Clyde sang in the choir at his mother's church, and after his family moved to New York in 1945, he harmonized with The Mount Lebanon Singers (White was also a member). But McPhatter harbored secular ambitions. He competed in the Apollo Theatre's weekly amateur contest, singing Lonnie Johnson's Tomorrow Night. Ward's authoritarian approach whipped the group into shape in a hurry. They won the Apollo amateur show, emerged victorious on the radio program 'Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts' by crooning Goodnight Irene, and got signed to King Records' brand-new Federal subsidiary (Ralph Bass was persuaded to leave Savoy and head Federal by King boss Syd Nathan). That's when The Ques name bit the dust. The Dominoes made their first session for Bass in New York on November 14, 1950.
Their debut single, issued shortly before year's end, was also Federal's inaugural offering. It paired the upbeat Chicken Blues, fronted by bass singer Brown, with a Clyde-led Do Something For Me that was the first volley in a soulful revolution, even if pianist/arranger Ward didn't care to encourage it. The deliberate tempo of Do Something For Me, credited to Ward and Marks, allowed Clyde to work sanctified magic with its pleading lyrics. The rest of the group, all ex-gospel singers, pitched in sympathetically abetted by shimmering guitar. The shattering ballad blasted up to #6 R&B over a ten-week span that commenced in February of '51.
Great as they were, Clyde McPhatter's Drifters weren't the first black vocal group to use the name. There were several that came before. Recording for songwriter Otis Rene's Excelsior label in Los Angeles, these Drifters beat Clyde to the punch by a couple of years. While their sound looked backward to the 1940s rather than forward the way McPhatter's visionary outfit would, their Honey Chile was a lighthearted charmer, the polished group riding a backdrop built around bouncy piano and winding electric guitar. The other side, the Rene-penned Mobile, was bluesier and more lowdown, though hardly back in the alley. By 1953, there could be no doubt who owned the name. But these Drifters ably kept it warm until McPhatter and his crew broke out like gangbusters.
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