Beale Street Brass Notes Walk of Fame
Saluting the legends of Beale Street
On the page facing chapter one of Beale Black & Blue is a 1973 photo of Nat D. Williams standing in front of the rubble which was once the Palace Theater. The photo sums up the sense of utter despondence in the community over the ravages of the urban renewal program on Beale Street. Not only buildings were gone, but also a sense of place and of pride. The earliest, failed efforts at redeveloping Beale gave every reason to believe it was gone forever.
The key to successful redevelopment was envisioning a new incarnation with both amenities and attractions and connections to the proud past. John Elkington’s idea with the Beale Street Brass Note Walk of Fame was to offer a tangible embodiment of the many talented people who had put Memphis music and Beale Street on the world map. Below are brief biographies which offer a glimpse into the lives of the musicians, composers, disc jockeys, promoters, and music supporters who are celebrated in the concrete sidewalks along Beale Street.
1 – Peter Guralnick
(1943 – )
With a degree in creative writing from Boston University, Peter Guralnick began writing about music, focusing on the profiles of bands and musicians as much or more so than the genre of music they played. He began writing for Living Blues andRolling Stone and later published a number of books includingFeel Like Going Home, Lost Highway, Nighthawk Blues, and Sweet Soul Music. He went on to write a two-volume biography of Elvis Presley in the 90s and also the script for ABC’s documentary, Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock ‘n’ Roll.
2 – Ernest Withers
(1922 – 2007)
Photographer Ernest Withers captured iconic images of the civil rights movement on film, thereby becoming a strong influence in the struggle himself. Among the wide array of people he shot during his career, standouts include baseball players Jackie Robinson and Willie Mays along with music legends Elvis Presley, B.B. King, Ike and Tina Turner, Ray Charles, and Aretha Franklin. Withers worked in a studio on Beale Street until his death in 2007 and left behind a legacy which can be found in museum collections and also in books including Let Us March On, Pictures Tell the Story, The Memphis Blues Again, and Negro League Baseball.
3 – Alberta Hunter
(1895 – 1984)
Alberta Hunter was born in 1895 in Memphis but left for Chicago as a teenager where she peeled potatoes and worked hard to get her foot in the door with local club owners. Hunter got her first break in 1917 when she landed a five-year association with the Dreamland ballroom. Her career skyrocketed in the 1920s as she made regular appearances in clubs and on stage in musicals in New York, Paris, and London. She wrote several songs including the critically acclaimed “Downhearted Blues.” In 1928, Hunter played Queenie in the first London production of Show Boat. After her mother’s death in 1954, Hunter sought a career change which led her to the medical profession. Hunter was working at a New York hospital in 1961 when a record producer approached her about taking a break from nursing to record again. In 1978, after retiring from the hospital, Hunter agreed to a two-week gig at the Greenwich Village Club. The gig served as a major comeback for Hunter and caught the attention of Columbia Records. She performed until shortly before her death in October 1984.
4 – Elvis Presley
(1935 – 1977)
Born in Tupelo, Elvis Aaron Presley moved with his parents to Memphis in 1948. He explored all kinds of music, listening and learning from acts playing the Ellis Auditorium to Beale Street. Elvis met Sam Phillips at Sun Studios in 1953 when he came to record two songs for his mother’s belated birthday present. With manager Col. Tom Parker, Elvis gained national exposure performing on The Steve Allen Show and The Ed Sullivan Showwhich cropped Elvis from the waist up on camera. During his time in the U.S. Army, Elvis met his future wife, Priscilla. Elvis Presley’s career included significant accomplishments in recording as well as in concert attendance and movie ticket sales. Elvis charted more songs on Billboard’s Hot 100 than any previous artist. The King of Rock & Roll died in Memphis in 1977, but continues to be a worldwide icon and his home is a major international tourist attraction.
5 – George Klein
(1936 – )
George Klein is a radio personality whose career spans many decades. Klein hosted programs on WMPS, WHBQ, and WMC radio and also hosted Dance Party on television. Klein was classmate of Elvis Presley at Humes High School, and now hosts an Elvis-themed program on Sirius satellite radio. Klein has received numerous awards including Number One Disc Jockey from Billboard magazine and the Memphis Legend Award from Harrah’s Casino.
6 – Jerry Schilling
(1942 – )
Born in Memphis, Jerry Schilling met Elvis Presley at age twelve. Their relationship began during a neighborhood football game and continued with Schilling becoming one of Presley’s bodyguards years later. Schilling built a career in the music industry, managing The Beach Boys and Jerry Lee Lewis and also working with Billy Joel. After years of living on the West Coast, Schilling returned to Memphis in 1999 to head the Memphis & Shelby County Music Commission, a position he stayed in for three years. Schilling served as producer and consultant on film projects about Elvis and also wrote a book about the King.
7 – Lillie Mae Glover aka Ma Rainey II
(1906 – 1985)
Born in Columbia, Tennessee in 1906, Lillie Mae Hardison moved with her family to Nashville as a young child. At age fourteen, Lillie Mae ran off to join a traveling medicine show, hoping to spark a career as a singer. She married a preacher named Willie Glover and they settled in Memphis in the 1920s. Known as “Baby Ma Rainey,” she was a fixture of Beale Street until urban renewal stalled all the night life there. She came out of retirement in the mid-1970s, singing locally and with the traveling Memphis Blues Caravan. She recorded an album entitled, Memories of Beale Street: Prince Gabe and the Millionaires with the Original Memphis Sound. Glover’s pace was slowed a bit after she had heart surgery, but she kept performing until her death in 1985.
8 – Robert Johnson
(1911 – 1938)
Robert Leroy Johnson was born in 1911 in Hazlehurst, Mississippi and grew up in Memphis. He married sixteen-year-old Virginia Travis who died shortly after childbirth. Around this time, blues musician Son House moved to Robinsonville and Johnson followed him around trying to learn the guitar. When Johnson left Robinsonville and reappeared a few months later, he had tremendous guitar technique. From this came the legend that he sold his soul to the Devil at the legendary “crossroads” (the intersection of Mississippi Highways 61 and 49) in exchange for his great talent. He made just two sets of recordings in Texas in 1936 and 1937 before dying in 1938 at age 27 near Greenwood, Mississippi. Johnson was among the first musicians inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll’s Hall of Fame “Early Influence” category in 1986. Robert Johnson was also ranked #5 in Rolling Stone’s list of the top 100 Guitarists of All Time.
9 – Clyde Hopkins
(1927 – )
Clyde Hopkins was a member of W.C. Handy’s Orchestra, and grew up in a roadhouse operated by his mother in Tunica, Mississippi. After leaving the Handy organization he started his own band. In 1965 Hopkins bought Johnnie Currie’s Club Tropicana in North Memphis and re-named it El Morocco. He kept a talented house band including, over the years, Dr. Herman Green, Emerson Able, Floyd Newman, and many other noteworthy musicians. El Morocco also attracted big name traveling R&B acts. After leaving the club business he continued to perform with large and small groups locally and on tour. He still continues to play and record.
10 – B.B. King
(1925 – 2015 )
Riley B. King, born in 1925 in Indianola, Mississippi, has become better known as B.B. King. As a child, King sang in a local gospel group and at twelve years old, he was given his first guitar by his older cousin, “Bukka” White. Making his way to Memphis, King worked at radio station WDIA as a singer and disc jockey. This is where he was given the nickname “Beale Street Blues Boy,” which he later shortened to “B.B.” In 1949, King began recording with Los Angeles-based RPM Records. Many of his earliest singles were produced by Sam Phillips, founder of Sun Records. King opened for The Rolling Stones on their 1969 American tour. He won a Grammy Award for “The Thrill Is Gone,” which was later marked number 183 in Rolling Stone magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. He has recorded many albums of his own and collaborated with artists ranging from U2 to Eric Clapton.
11 – Jerry Wexler
(1917 – 2008)
Born in the Bronx, New York, Gerald “Jerry” Wexler grew up to be an editor, writer, and reporter for Billboard magazine. After coining the phrase, “rhythm and blues”, Wexler become involved in the recording business working with Stax Records, the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, Atlantic Records, and Warner Brothers Records. Over the span of his career, he worked with a wide range of artists including Ray Charles, the Drifters, Ruth Brown, Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, and George Michael. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.
12 – Justin Timberlake
(1981 – )
Justin Randall Timberlake was born in Memphis in 1981. Growing up in Millington, Justin began by singing country music for Star Search. In 1993, Justin joined the cast of The Mickey Mouse Club. When the show ended in 1994, Timberlake joined fellow Mouseketeer J.C. Chasez and singers Lance Bass, Joey Fatone, and Chris Kirkpatrick to form the popular boy band ‘N Sync. He recorded his first solo album in 2002 and then embarked on an acting career with roles in five films between 2004 and 2007. He has won numerous Grammy Awards, collaborated with artists from Madonna to the Black Eyed Peas on recordings, opened three restaurants and a golf course, created a brand of tequila, and continues to succeed in a wide variety of areas.
13 – Pete Pedersen
(1925 – 2002)
Pete Pedersen had a hit record with “Peg O My Heart” in 1947 as a member of the Harmonicats. He played with various groups before going solo in the mid-1950s. Over the years, Pedersen would perform at countless music festivals and harmonica-related events. He moved to Memphis in 1969 to become a writer for William B. Tanner (later known as Media General) where he wrote, arranged and recorded thousands of classic jingles, songs, and scores. Acknowledged as one of the world’s finest harmonica players, he also wrote two concertos for harmonica.
14 – Ruby Wilson
(1948 – 2016)
Ruby Wilson, better known as The Queen of Beale Street, has performed for many years at B.B. King’s night club as well as at numerous festivals and events. Born in Texas, she has been singing since age 16. She moved to Chicago and then Memphis where she has been thrilling audiences with a raw and lively form of vintage blues for decades. Over the years she has performed with such artists as Ray Charles, Danny Thomas, B.B. King, The Four Tops, and Willie Nelson. She has performed at the White House and before royalty in Europe. She has also had cameo roles in nine motion pictures filmed around the Memphis area including Cookie’s Fortune and Black Snake Moan.
15 – Harry Godwin
(1907 – 1986)
Born in New Jersey, Harry Godwin grew up in Virginia and Chicago where he saw Louis Armstrong, Kid Ory, Baby Dodds, King Oliver, and other early jazz greats. He moved to Memphis in the early 1950s. Knowing of his love for and connection to jazz and blues, he was asked to help pull together a line up for the Cotton Carnival. Later versions became the Memphis Jazz & Blues Festival. His first show featured Furry Lewis, Gus Cannon, Little Laura Dukes, Bukka White, and more. From that point on, he worked his day job as a manufacturer’s rep mainly to support his family and his love of music history. He collected stories, memorabilia, and taped interviews. He also wrote a few songs. For a time he served as manager for Memphis Slim. He had a weekly radio show on WLYX (Rhodes College). His avocation made him a resource for researchers and a treasure for the city.
16 – Rev. W. Herbert Brewster
(1897 – 1987)
William Herbert Brewster was born in Somerville, Tennessee on July 2, 1897. After graduating from Roger Williams College in Nashville in 1922, Brewster settled in Memphis where he became the minister of East Trigg Avenue Baptist Church. Reverend Brewster wrote over 200 compositions including Mahalia Jackson’s first hit in 1948, “Move On Up A Little Higher” and The Ward Singers hit “Surely, God Is Able.” These songs credited Brewster with the first million-selling black gospel records. Brewster is also known for his African-American religious dramas, including “Sowing in Tears, Reaping in Joy” for which he was honored by the Smithsonian Institution in 1982. In February 2007, the Memphis City Schools posthumously honored Brewster, naming the new school in the Binghamton community Dr. William Herbert Brewster Elementary School.
17 – Bukka White
(1909 – 1977)
Born Booker T. Washington White near Aberdeen, Mississippi in 1909, “Bukka” White started his career playing the fiddle at square dances. He first recorded for Victor Records in 1930 and then for folklorist Alan Lomax in 1939 while serving time. White gave his younger cousin B.B. King his first guitar. After Bob Dylan covered White’s song, “Fixin’ to Die Blues,” White was rediscovered in 1963 and once again recorded. Later he teamed with friend Furry Lewis to record an album called, Furry Lewis, Bukka White & Friends: Party! At Home. White died on February 26, 1977.
18 – Frank Stokes
(1888 – 1955)
Born in 1888 in Whitehaven, Stokes was raised by his stepfather in Tutwiler, Mississippi, after his parents’ death. He soon learned how to play guitar. At age twelve, Stokes worked as a blacksmith, traveling to Memphis every weekend to perform. In 1910, Stokes joined the Doc Watts Medicine Show. In 1920, Stokes stopped touring and settled in Oakville, Tennessee. He went back to work as a blacksmith and also played for local parties, saloons, and fish fries. Stokes joined Kelly’s Jug Busters and then played Beale Street with longtime collaborator Dan Sane as the Beale Street Sheiks. Their first recording as the Beale Street Sheiks was released in 1927 on Paramount Records. Later, the duo moved to Victor Records. Stokes and Sane cut thirty-eight sides between Paramount and Victor Records. Stokes later moved to Clarksdale where he occasionally performed with Bukka White. Stokes died of a stroke in Memphis, Tennessee on September 12, 1955.
19 – The Memphis Horns
The Memphis Horns, originally a six piece back up group, became famous for their work with Stax Records. For most of their tenure the group has been a duo, Wayne Jackson and Andrew Love. They appear on recordings with Stax artists including Isaac Hayes, Otis Redding, Rufus Thomas, Sam & Dave, and others. They also later worked with Robert Cray, The Doobie Brothers, U2, and others. Love has retired, but Jackson continues to record and perform with former members Jack Hale and Tom McGinley. Still in demand, in 2008 they played with Jack White and Alicia Keys.
20 – The Staple Singers
Roebuck “Pop” Staples organized The Staples Signers around 1948, when he asked his children Cleotha, Pervis, Yvonne, and Mavis to appear in Chicago churches with him. The family signed their first recording contract in 1952, and would go on to record gospel-folk style music for various labels. It was under Epic Records in 1965 that the group began recording more mainstream pop music. In 1968, The Staple Singers moved to Memphis-based Stax Records. Later the group began to record at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio and Memphis’ Ardent Studios, where they would move toward funk and soul. Under the Stax label, their 1971 release of “Respect Yourself” peaked at number two on the R&B charts along with the number twelve spot for the pop chart. The Staple Singer’s biggest hit came in 1973 with their single “If You’re Ready (Come Go With Me).” The Staple Singers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999.
21 – Dr. Herman Green
(1930 – )
Dr. Green began his musical career playing on Beale Street with the Newborn family in 1945. Returning to Memphis from a stint in the military in 1955, Green had a layover in San Francisco and became immersed in the music scene there. He stayed in San Francisco and became the bandleader for a club called The Blackhawk. From 1955 to 1957, Herman played with artists such as Cannonball Adderley, Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck, John Coltrane, and the Modern Jazz Quartet. After meeting Lionel Hampton, Herman was offered a job playing with his band. Herman stayed with Hampton’s band for eight years before returning home to Memphis, where he then directed the jazz studies program at LeMoyne-Owen College for a number of years. Green has played with a many groups around Memphis over the years, perhaps his longest tenure being with FreeWorld, a Beale Street fixture.
22 – Booker T. Laury
(1914 – 1995)
Lawrence “Booker T.” Laury was born in 1914 in Memphis. Laury grew up with Peter Chatman, also known as “Memphis Slim.” Along with friend Mose Vinson, Laury and Chatman began playing in the clubs and card rooms of the city. Even with the pinky finger of his left hand missing from a machine saw accident, Laury was an accomplished keyboard player. In 1935, Laury and Chatman caught the attention of a musical talent scout who invited them to come to Chicago. Chatham went and subsequently had an international music career. Laury stayed in Memphis and continued to play gambling halls and clubs the rest of his life, not achieving fame until a cameo appearance in the film “Great Balls of Fire.” He began recording when he was 80-years-old.
23 – James Cotton
(1935 – )
James Cotton was born in Tunica, Mississippi in 1935. Cotton grew up working in the cotton fields with his mother. As a child, he would listen to his mother play the harmonica and later heard harmonica played on the radio station KFFA by the star of KFFA’s radio show King Biscuit Time, Sonny Boy Williamson. Williamson became his mentor, taking Cotton to play at juke joints. When Williamson moved to Milwaukee, Cotton moved to Memphis. He later teamed with Howlin’ Wolf. At age fifteen, Cotton released four songs at Sun Records. Cotton then played with Muddy Waters for twelve years. In 1958, Cotton began to record at Chess Records, where he and Muddy released “Sugar Sweet” and “Close To You.” Cotton has won one Grammy Award and been nominated for four.
24 – Jerry Lee Lewis
(1935 – )
Born in 1935 in Ferriday, Louisiana, Jerry Lee Lewis was given his first piano at age eight after his parents mortgaged their farm to purchase it. Lewis learned to play the piano in two weeks. Lewis grew up listening to as many country music broadcasts as he could. He also spent a lot of time hiding behind the bar at Haney’s Big House, absorbing the sounds of eighteen year old B.B. King. In 1956, 21-year-old Jerry Lee read a story about how Elvis made his way to Memphis to speak to Sam Phillips at Sun Records. Jerry Lee followed suit, and by July 1957 he was performing on The Steve Allen Show. Lewis’ “Whole Lotta Shakin’” made its way to the #3 spot on the Pop, Country, Western, and R&B charts. He followed that with the #2 hit, “Great Balls of Fire.” He has released dozens of albums and continues to delight audiences across the globe with his high-energy performances.
25 – Albert King
(1923 – 1992)
Albert King was born in 1923 in Indianola, Mississippi. He first discovered music by singing in the church choir and listening to his father play guitar. Because he was left handed, Albert would flip guitars upside down so the low E string was on the bottom. This led to his custom-made, left-handed guitar with reversed strings. Albert King recorded his first album in Chicago 1953, but his first hit didn’t come until 1959 with “I’m A Lonely Man” which was co- written with Little Milton. In 1966, Albert King signed with the Stax record label where he recorded many sides such as “Crosscut Saw.” King also played at promoter Bill Graham’s Fillmore venues. In the 1970s, King teamed up with members of the Bar-Kays and The Movement, including bassist James Alexander and drummer Willie Hall, to produce the hit “I’ll Play the Blues For You.” King played his final concert in Los Angeles on December 19, 1992. He died two days later in Memphis after suffering a sudden heart attack.
26 – Don McMinn
(1942 – )
Don McMinn helped create the rebirth of Beale Street by fronting the house band at the Rum Boogie Café for nine years beginning with its opening in 1985. His blend of Delta blues and R&B quickly made Rum Boogie a must visit destination for musicians traveling through Memphis. In addition to his prowess as a stage host, his musical abilities led him to record with such stars as Memphis Slim, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bobby “Blue” Bland, and many more. He continues to play events and festivals across the nation and around the world.
27 – Furry Lewis
(1893 – 1981)
Born Walter E. Lewis in 1893 in Greenwood, Mississippi, his family moved to Memphis when he was seven. By 1908, Lewis was playing solo for parties, in clubs, and on the street. He also played several dates with W.C. Handy’s Orchestra. Even with the loss of a leg after a railroad accident in 1917, Lewis was able to travel, meeting performers like Bessie Smith, Blind Lemon Jefferson, and Texas Alexander. While he cut records in 1927 and 1929, Lewis did not garner attention for his recordings until 1962 when he was recorded by the folklorist George Mitchell. In 1969, producer Terry Manning recorded Lewis in his Beale Street apartment. In 1972, Lewis was the featured performer in the Memphis Blues Caravan. Before he died of pneumonia in 1981, Lewis opened twice for The Rolling Stones, appeared on Johnny Carson’s The Tonight Show, and had a role in a Burt Reynolds movie, W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings, and a profile in Playboy magazine.
28 – Memphis Minnie
(1897 – 1973)
Lizzie Douglas, known as Memphis Minnie, was born in 1897 in Algiers, Louisiana. As a child, Lizzie “Kid” Douglas played guitar in nightclubs before joining the Ringling Brothers circus. After marrying singing partner Kansas Joe McCoy in 1929, Columbia Records picked up Minnie and her husband and released their first hit, “Bumble Bee.” McCoy and Minnie broke up soon after moving to Chicago in the 1930s, and by 1939 Minnie was recording with new husband “Little Son” Joe Lawlers. The two recorded nearly 200 records together, including some of Minnie’s most enduring work. She retired from performing and recording in the 1950s due to failing health.
29 – Carla Thomas
(1942 – )
Born in 1942 in Memphis, Carla Thomas spent much of her childhood at the Palace Theater where her father, Rufus Thomas, emceed. Carla’s access to the theater sparked her interest in music and she began her musical career at age ten when she was part of radio station WDIA’s Teen Town Singers. Carla recorded her first album with Satellite Records (later renamed Stax Records) in the 1960s. Her most famous single is “Gee Whiz.” After appearing on the television show American Bandstand, Carla released five more albums including her popular single “B-A-B-Y” and the Otis Redding collaboration,King and Queen. After her last record with Stax, Carla took a break from show business. Carla began to occasionally perform again in the 1980s. She received the prestigious Pioneer Award in 1993 and was also featured in the 2003 documentary, Only the Strong Will Survive, which showcased notable Stax recording artists.
30 – Hank Crawford
(1934 – 2009)
Bennie Ross “Hank” Crawford, Jr. was born in 1934 in Memphis Tennessee. Crawford began to study the piano at age nine but the saxophone soon became his instrument of choice. After playing in early recordings for B.B. King, Crawford went to college at Tennessee State University where he majored in music theory and composition. Crawford played in the Tennessee State Jazz Collegians as well as in his own rock ‘n’ roll quartet, “Little Hank and the Rhythm Kings.” While playing in his quartet, he met Ray Charles and was invited to join his band, first playing baritone sax, and then alto. In 1963, Crawford became Charles’ musical director, as well. Crawford left Ray Charles to form his own septet and to spend time as an arranger, soloist, and composer. He wrote for such notables as Jimmy McGriff and Dr. John, and also found time to cut several albums of his own.
31 – Hi Rhythm Section
The Hi Rhythm Section was the house band for Willie Mitchell’s Hi Records label in the 1970s, and recorded many successful soul albums with artists including Al Green and Ann Peebles. The band was originally organized by Mitchell at his Royal Recording Studio during the late 60s. Members of the group include brothers Mabon “Teenie” Hodges on guitar, Leroy Hodges on bass, and Charles Hodges on keyboards, with Al Jackson, Jr. or Howard Grimes on drums.
32 – Mose Vinson
(1917 – 2002)
Mose Vinson was born in Holly Springs, Mississippi. The family moved to Memphis when he was young, and Vinson began to teach himself to play piano at an early age. He later played his rollicking barrelhouse-style piano at local juke joints. In the 1950s, Vinson worked as a part time clean-up man and part time piano accompanist at Sun Studios, where Sam Phillips occasionally asked Vinson to accompany musicians such as James Cotton. During his time at Sun Records, Mose cut his own tracks which were not released until the 1980s. In the early ’80s, the Center for Southern Folklore hired Vinson to perform at special cultural festivals and local schools, and he soon became a regular attraction at the Center where he remained for twenty years of declining health but spirited performances. He released his first full-length CD through the Center in 1997.
33 – Mud Boy and the Neutrons
In 1973, Lee Baker, Jim Dickinson, Sid Selvidge, and Jimmy Crosthwait joined forces to create one of the areas most noted – and notorious – super groups called Mud Boy and the Neutrons, which influenced the Memphis alternative rock scene from the 1970s through the 1990s. The group was best known for deliberately making their offbeat public performances rare, special events. Dickinson worked to get Mud Boy and the Neutrons a recording contract through Warner Brothers, but their demo was never released. Meanwhile each of the members had successful individual careers. They eventually released three albums on labels like New Rose Records (France) and Koch International. After the murder of Baker in 1996, the band temporarily disbanded before performing a couple of retirement shows.
34 – Otis Redding
(1941 – 1967)
Otis Ray Redding, Jr. was born in Dawson, Georgia in 1941. He began singing in the church choir at age five. As a teenager, Redding performed in a talent show at the Douglass Theatre for fifteen weeks in a row. As a young man, Otis was in a group called Love Twist but moved on to tour with Johnny Jenkins and the Pinetoppers. In 1962, Otis recorded “These Arms of Mine” through Volt Records, a subsidiary of Stax Records, which was the first of his many hits. Redding died on December 9, 1967 in a plane crash with many members of the Bar-Kays.
35 – W.C. Handy
(1873 – 1958)
William Christopher Handy was born in Florence, Alabama in 1873. Growing up, he received lessons on the cornet in the local barber shop. Handy was teaching school by age nineteen, but left for a high paying job at a factory in Bessemer, Alabama. Wishing to rekindle his flame with music, he organized a quartet that performed at the Chicago World’s Fair and toured for a short time afterward. Later, Handy joined Mahara’s Minstrels playing the cornet. Handy formed his own marching band in 1902, which combined various elements from popular dance music, and performed for both white and black audiences alike. Touring and traveling, he heard and recalled music made by rural people. He particularly recalled the strange sounding music he heard a man playing at a train station in Tutwiler, Mississippi: The Blues. Handy received his first big break when his band was asked to play for Memphis political boss, Edward H. Crump. Handy’s band had a song called “Mr. Crump.” The title was later changed to “The Memphis Blues” which was the first blues ballad Handy ever wrote, and arguably the first blues ballad in history. After publishing the song himself in 1912, “The Memphis Blues” became popular all over the United States. Handy went on to open up a Memphis-based music publishing firm, and in 1917 moved the company to New York City.
36 – Isaac Hayes
(1942 – 2008)
Isaac Hayes was born in 1942 in Covington, Tennessee, and was raised by his maternal grandparents. He and his family moved to Memphis, where he discovered a talent for performing during high school. Later he got a job as a pianist at the Plantation Inn in West Memphis, Arkansas. Because bandleader Floyd Newman also worked for Stax records, Hayes was given his first co-writing gig in 1963 as a session man at Stax Records. Hayes and lyricist David Porter soon became a notable songwriting team at Stax. Hayes released his first album “Introducing Isaac Hayes” in 1967, but did not gain a following until his “Hot Buttered Soul” album made the pop and R&B charts in 1969. From 1969 to 1975, Hayes released a string of Top Twenty albums. Hayes’ Oscar-winning hit, “Theme from ‘Shaft’” topped the charts for two weeks in 1971 and he made his television debut in Wattstax, a concert film featuring Stax artists. Isaac Hayes also served as the voice of “Chef” on Comedy Central’s South Park until his death on August 10, 2008.
37 – Ray Glover
(1954 – )
A 1984 semi-finals winner of the West Tennessee Metropolitan Opera auditions alongside Kallen Esperian, Glover now lends his baritone voice to jazz standards in cabaret settings and larger venues. He served as the first artist in residence for the Memphis Arts Council. He has performed with the Memphis Symphony, Memphis Slim, Carla Thomas, Rufus Thomas, and many others throughout the United States and 19 additional countries. Equally adept at accompanying himself on piano or bass guitar, the smooth voice of Memphian Ray Glover currently captivates audiences at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.
38 – Johnny Cash
(1932 – 2003)
Johnny Cash grew up in the Dyess Colony in northeast Arkansas. His love for music began in the cotton fields where his family sang while they worked. When Cash was discharged from the Air Force in 1954, he moved to Memphis and auditioned for Sam Phillips’ Sun Records. The second single he produced at Sun made it to the Billboard Top 20. In 1956, Cash was invited to perform on the Grand Ole Opry, and in 1957 he switched to Columbia Records in search of more artistic freedom. Cash continued to release chart-making hits and made appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show and The Tonight Show. He also had his own weekly show on ABC. In addition to his successful solo career, he’s also noted for a number of high profile musical collaborations with artists such as Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Kris Kristofferson (as The Highwaymen); Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, andCarl Perkins (to create the album Class of ’55); as well as Nine Inch Nails and others. His life was brought to the big screen in the 2005 film “Walk the Line.”
39 – Sam Phillips
(1923 – 2003)
Samuel Cornelius Phillips was born in Florence, Alabama in 1923. Phillips majored in broadcasting and landed his first job at a radio station in Alabama. The radio station’s open format allowed Phillips to play music by both white and black musicians, which would later inspire his work in Memphis. On January 3, 1950, Phillips opened up the “Memphis Recording Service” where he created his label, Sun Records. At Sun he recorded and helped launch the careers of many world renowned artists such as B.B. King, Junior Parker, Howlin’ Wolf, Jackie Brenston, Rosco Gordon, Little Milton, Bobby “Blue” Band, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, and many more.
40 – Lucie Campbell
(1885 – 1962)
Born in 1885, Lucie Eddie Campbell moved to Memphis with her mother and eight siblings. Receiving her first piano lessons at home, she went school to earn her teaching degree. Lucie continued her education to receive her master’s degree at Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial State College. Upon her graduation, Campbell organized the “Music Club” on Beale Street and in 1919, Lucie published her first song. She went on to publish more than a hundred songs including “The Lord Is My Shepherd,” “Heavenly Sunshine,” ”The King’s Highway,” “Touch Me Lord Jesus,” and “He Understands, He’ll Say Well Done.”
41 – The Blues Brothers
When comedians Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi teamed up to create a Saturday Night Live skit by singing the blues in 1978, they had no idea their performance would become so popular. Not only was much of the music from Memphis, the band they assembled for the subsequent 1980 film had direct Memphis roots, featuring Stax greats Steve Cropper on guitar and Donald “Duck” Dunn on bass. The movie, two albums, and a sequel brought renewed interest in Memphis music.
42 – Cordell Jackson
(1923 – 2004)
Cordell Jackson was born in Pontotoc, Mississippi in 1923, and grew up playing music with encouragement from her father. At age twelve, she was performing on the guitar, piano, and upright bass in her father’s band and appeared on her father’s radio show in Tupelo, Mississippi. She later added the mandolin, banjo, and harmonica to her repertoire. Of all the instruments she played, Cordell was most noted for the electric guitar. After marrying William Jackson in 1943, she settled in Memphis where she set up equipment in her living room and began to record demos and send them to Sam Phillips, founder of Sun Records. Unable to break into the Sun Records label’s stable of male artists, Jackson created Moon Records in 1956 to record her own single, “Beboppers Christmas,” which led her to release additional rockabilly singles by other small bands, and is widely thought to be the first woman to produce, engineer, arrange and promote music on her own rock and rollmusic label. Though she never stopped recording until her death, her career had waned somewhat until it was rejuvenated in the 1980s when Alex Chilton and Tav Falco recorded some of her Moon Records songs. The “Rock-and-Roll Granny” achieved notoriety with appearances on the David Letterman Show and in a Bud Light commercial with Brian Setzer.
43 – Lamar Alexander
(1940 – )
The former governor and current senator of Tennessee, Lamar Alexander is also a classically trained pianist. This benefited Alexander during campaign fundraisers across the state early in his career. A supporter of Memphis music, Alexander has twice performed at the Memphis in May Sunset Symphony.
44 – Onzie Horne Sr.
(1924 – 1973)
Onzie Horne was an arranger and band leader with the versatility to lead high school groups at Woodstock and Manassas High Schools, as well as play with stars ranging from Lionel Hampton to Ma Rainey II. He also arranged music for B.B. King and Al Jackson. For the last two and half years of his life, he was the arranger and bandleader for Isaac Hayes.
45 – Al Green
(1946 – )
Albert Greene was born in Forrest City, Arkansas and began performing at age ten in the family quartet, the Green Brothers. The group toured extensively throughout the South in the 1950s until his family moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan. In 1967, he formed a new group called Al Greene & the Soul Mates and the single “Back Up Train” was released on Hot Line Music. Greene became Green when he signed with Willie Mitchell’s Hi Records in 1969. A string of hits came from the Hi years until Green focused his attention on becoming pastor of the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Memphis in 1976. Since that time, he has appeared on Broadway, written a book, produced more music with Mitchell, and won a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
46 – Little Milton
(1934 – 2005)
Born Milton Campbell in Inverness, Mississippi, “Little Milton” first recorded with Sam Phillips at Sun Records before moving to East St. Louis and Bobbin Records where his career became more successful. His career took off when Chess Records signed him, and a series of hit singles followed. With the demise of Chess in 1969, Little Milton moved to Stax Records. He continued to perform and record up until his death in 2005.
47 – Memphis Slim
(1915 – 1988)
John Len Chatman, later known as “Memphis Slim”, was born in Memphis in 1915. Growing up with a musically inclined father, Slim began performing in honkytonks in the 1930s. Slim teamed up with Big Bill Broonzy in 1939 and performed in Chicago clubs. He recorded and performed steadily throughout the 1940s and 50s with big bands and small groups. He set out on a European tour with Willie Dixon in 1960. He moved to Paris in 1962, playing and touring Europe the remainder of his life.
48 – O’Landa Draper
(1963 – 1998)
O’Landa Draper’s family settled in Memphis when he was thirteen years old. Draper’s mother was a gospel promoter and recording artist. Draper wrote his own gospel songs in high school, and at Memphis State University he was credited with forming a mass choir called The Associates. The Associates performed with musicians such as Shirley Caesar, The Winans, and many others. They had just begun to record for Word/Epic at the time of his death due to kidney failure.
49 – Rufus Thomas
(1917 – 2001)
Born in Cayce, Mississippi, in 1917, Rufus Thomas moved to Memphis with his family at age two. Thomas made his acting debut at age six in a school play, and was a skilled tap dancer by age 10. He joined the Rabbit Foot Minstrels in 1936 and started at WDIA in 1951, hosting an afternoon show called Hoot and Holler. Rufus was also an emcee at Memphis’ Palace Theater. He began his recording career in 1943 for the Star Talent label and later recorded at Stax, producing hits like “Walking the Dog.” For years, Rufus performed at the Porretta Soul Festival in Italy. He had a number of small film roles including one in Mystery Train. He continued performing right up until his death.
50 – Sam & Dave
After meeting in the gospel music circuit, Samuel David Moore, born on October 12, 1935, and Dave Prater, born May 9, 1937, joined together to form what their fans called, “The Sultans of Sweat” in 1961. Soon after the duo began working together, they caught the attention of Steve Alaimo who signed them to Marlin Records. After some moderate success with Marlin and later Roulette Records, they were signed by Jerry Wexler to Atlantic and sent to Stax in Memphis to develop their sound. The duo then collaborated with songwriters Isaac Hayes and David Porter to produce hit records such as “Hold On, I’m Comin,” named the #1 song of 1966. Many other hits followed, such as “Soul Man” and “I Thank You,” as well as performances at major events and on television. They split in 1970. Moore began performing solo following Prater’s death in a car wreck April 9, 1988.
51 – Willie Mitchell
(1928 – 2010)
Born March 23, 1928, in Ashland, Mississippi, Mitchell was raised in Memphis where he began to play the trumpet. After he was discharged from the military in 1954, he became a popular trumpet-playing bandleader. In 1959, Mitchell signed on with Hi Records and released a string of singles. When studio owner Joe Cuoghi died in 1970, Mitchell found himself the new boss of Hi Records. Mitchell and Hi had great success with Al Green and Ann Peebles and was known for its Hi Rhythm Section, featuring the Hodges brothers. Mitchell left Hi at the end of his contract. He continued in the recording business, running his Royal Recording Studios until his death. Al Green recorded again with Mitchell in 2003 and 2005.
52 – James Reverend Smith
Rev. James Smith, as chairman of the Beale Street Development Corporation, led the selection process for the redevelopment team after several unsuccessful attempts to formulate a development plan. He also served as head of the local AFSCME (American Federation of State, County, & Municipal Employees) and is thus considered to be a founder of the National Civil Rights Museum.
53 – Rudy Williams
(1941 – 2011 )
A fixture on Beale Street with his solo trumpet playing outside of King’s Palace Café or leading processions for many years, Rudy Williams may well be the most recognizable face on Beale Street in the modern era. His father bought him a trumpet when he was in elementary school and Williams taught himself to play by ear. The band director at Booker T. Washington allowed him to play with the high school band after he found young Rudy playing along behind the bleachers. He has been playing on Beale Street off and on since he was 13 years old. After retiring from the Defense Depot, he spent much more time on Beale and his photos with tourist have literally made his face known around the world. He passed away in 2011 and is sorely missed.
54 – Newborn Family
In the mid-1940s, the Newborn Orchestra included father and bandleader Finas on drums, older son Phineas on piano and younger son Calvin on guitar. They played for a few years at the Plantation Inn in West Memphis, leaving to tour with Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats. Each was a fine musician in his own right. Phineas moved to New York in 1956 and became one of the finest jazz pianists in the nation, playing with Oscar Pettiford, Wild Bill Davis, Joe Jones, and others. He toured Europe and worked on the West Coast before physical and mental health problems sidelined his career. Calvin’s leaping stage antics were a sight to behold, and he later toured with Lionel Hampton and Count Basie, among many others.
55 – Little Jimmy King
(1968 – 2002)
Born in Memphis in 1968 as Manuel Gales, he grew up as a left-handed guitar player. Renaming himself after his guitar heroes, Jimi Hendrix and Albert King, Little Jimmy King released his self-titled debut album in 1991 through the Rounder/Bull’s-eye Blues label. After recording with his brothers, King released his third album with producer Willie Mitchell and called it Soldier for the Blues. Little Jimmy King died due to a heart attack on July 19, 2002 at the young age of 34.
56 – Charlie Musselwhite
(1944 – )
Charlie Musselwhite was born on January 31, 1944, in Kosciusko, Mississippi, and his musically inclined family moved to Memphis when he was three years old. Charlie later headed to Chicago, hanging out with Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson, Howlin’ Wolf, and Big Walter Horton. After playing the guitar and harmonica in a couple of shows with long-time buddy, John Lee Hooker, Charlie started his own band which released the famous Stand Back! Here Comes Charley Musselwhite’s Southside Band album in 1966. Since then, Charlie has released more than twenty albums. He has won eighteen W.C. Handy Blues Music Awards, and has received six Grammy nominations as well as multiple Lifetime Achievement Awards.
57 – Stax Records
Stax Records was founded as Satellite Records by Jim Stewart in 1957 and initially operated out of a garage. Originally concentrating on mostly country music, Stewart began to adopt more rhythm and blues when he met disc jockey Rufus Thomas. Rufus Thomas and his daughter Carla would eventually release Satellite’s first hit in 1960, “’Cause I Love You.” This drew the attention of Atlantic Records which became interested in distributing Satellite’s records. Satellite officially became Stax in 1961 when Jim Stewart and co-owner Estelle Axton combined their last names to form “Stax”. Stewart and Axton eventually hired Steve Cropper, Booker T. Jones, Lewis Steinberg, Al Jackson, Jr., Donald “Duck” Dunn, and the Memphis Horns as house musicians. Among the stars to emerge from Stax were Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Isaac Hayes, and many more. In 1972, the Stax label presented a major concert in Los Angeles called, Wattstax, which drew an audience of over 100,000 people. Unfortunately, Stax went bankrupt in 1975. Stax was re-opened to the public in 2003 as the Stax Museum of American Soul Music and the Stax Music Academy.
58 – Bob Kelley
(1946 – 1998)
Music promoter Bob Kelly founded Mid-South Concerts and was responsible for bringing great shows and big name artists to Memphis for 25 years, from the 1970s through the 1990s. He regularly booked world class talent for the Mid-South Coliseum, Mud Island Amphitheater, Pyramid, and Beale Street Music Festival.
59 – Three 6 Mafia
Three 6 Mafia is an Academy Award-winning rap group that originated in Memphis, Tennessee. In 1991, DJ Paul (Paul Beauregard), Lord Infamous (Ricky Dunigan), and Juicy J (Jordan Houston) recruited fellow Memphis rappers Koopsta Knicca (Robert Cooper), Gangsta Boo (Lola Mitchell), and Crunchy Black (Darnell Carlton). The group’s membership varied from album to album. The only constants were Juicy J and DJ Paul. In 2005, Three 6 Mafia won an Academy Award for their song, “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp,” which was featured in the locally-filmed motion picture, Hustle & Flow. After their win, Crunchy Black left the group to make a solo album. Juicy J and DJ Paul got their own reality TV show on MTV called, Adventures in Hollyhood.
60 – Maurice Hulbert
(1916 – 1996)
Maurice “Hot Rod” Hulbert, Jr. grew up on Beale Street. His father, being a well-known entertainer on Beale and owner of a Memphis night club, taught Hulbert the ways of show business at an early age. In 1949, Hulbert launched the Sepia Swing Club on WDIA, an early-afternoon program as “Hot Rod” Hulbert, which marked the beginning of his career as a disc jockey. He soon added two morning shows: Delta Melodies and Sweet TalkingTime. In 1951 he moved to Baltimore to become the first full-time black DJ on the all white WITH radio station. His career in radio lasted into the 1990s. He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, OH.
61 – Nat D. Williams
(1907 – 1983)
Nat D. Williams became the first black radio announcer in Memphis when he began broadcasting for WDIA in 1948. He also wrote for the newspaper from 1928 until the early 1970s and taught at Booker T. Washington High School for 42 years. Williams then went on to become a co-founder of the Cotton Makers Jubilee and is credited with giving the celebration its name. Williams is noted for beginning “Amateur Night” on Beale Street in 1935 at the Palace Theater. He retired from radio and teaching following a stroke in 1972.
62 – James Govan
(1949 – 2014 )
James Govan was born in McComb, Mississippi in 1949 and started playing guitar at age 13.
Govan began performing vocals and percussion on Beale Street in 1989, and has served as the front man for the Boogie Blues Band at the Rum Boogie Café since 1994. From 1993 to 1997, Govan performed a tribute to Otis Redding at the Porretta Soul Festival in Italy.
63 – Silky Sullivan
(1942 – 2013)
Thomas D.”Silky” Sullivan is a club owner, occasional political candidate, international BBQ promoter, and full time character. He opened Silky’s in Overton Square in 1972 and later brought a more expansive version of his Irish/Southern Fun to Beale Street. At Silky O’Sullivan’s, tourists can hearing dueling pianos, drink divers, or watch the famed drinking goats.
64 – Bobby “Blue” Bland
(1930 – 2013)
Robert Calvin Bland was born in 1930 in Rosemark, Tennessee. When he and his mother later moved to Memphis, Bland took his love for singing to Beale Street where he met B.B. King and Johnny Ace and formed the Beale Streeters. When Bland came home from the Army in 1955 he saw that his former band mates were becoming successful, so Bland quickly jumped back into the music scene and began recording with saxophonist Bill Harvey’s band. His recording of “It’s My Life, Baby” was his first hit, and has been followed by the release of a steady string of classic blues standards which have supported his long and successful career in the music industry. He received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997.
65 – Beale Street Flippers
The Beale Street Flippers began with Rarecas Bonds. In 1988, Bonds made his way to Beale Street where the excitement of Memphis in May sent him into a tumbling frenzy. After Bonds started receiving tip money for his flipping, he began visiting Beale Street every day. Scoring popularity and a cameo appearance in “The Firm”, Bonds began to encounter competition. Instead of battling his competition, Bonds asked the guys to join him. Over the years they have performed at many national events including NBA games and on TV’s America’s Got Talent.
66 – Tigrett Family
Stalwart music supporters, Isaac Tigrett founded both the Hard Rock Café and House of Blues while his stepmother Pat Kerr Tigrett is the founder and driving force behind the annual Blues Ball which celebrates Memphis music of all kinds.
67 – The Bar-Kays
The Bar-Kays, which consisted of guitarist Jimmy King, trumpeter Ben Cauley, organist Ronnie Caldwell, saxophonist Phalon Jones, bassist James Alexander, and drummer Carl Cunningham, were formed in Memphis in 1968. The Bar-Kays caught the attention of Stax Records which signed them in 1967. After serving as a back-up band, the Bar-Kays released their own hit called “Soul Finger.” Shortly thereafter, all the band members except James Alexander and Ben Cauley were tragically killed in the same plane crash that took the life of recording artist Otis Redding. Alexander reformed the Bar-Kays which backed Isaac Hayes’ hit “Hot Buttered Soul”. The new group consisted of Alexander on bass, Willie Hall on drums, Winston Stewart on organ, Barry Wilkins and Vernon Burch on guitar, Harvey Henderson on the saxophone, and vocalist Larry Dodson. This group had some success and remained intact until 1988. A third ensemble was assembled in the 1990 by Alexander and Dodson. Alexander’s son is the award-winning rapper and record producer, Phalon “Jazze Pha” Alexander, who was named after Phalon Jones.
68 – David Porter
(1941 – )
Born November 21, 1941, David Porter started his music career as a Stax house composer. Joined later by Isaac Hayes, the songwriting duo created hits such as “Soul Man,“ “When Something Is Wrong With My Baby,“ and “Hold On, I’m Comin’”. When Hayes decided to pursue a solo performing career, Porter began to release singles for Stax and later other labels, sometimes under other names, and sometimes in partnership with Ronnie Williams. David Porter was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame on June 9, 2005.
69 – Steve Cropper
(1941 – )
Stephen Lee Cropper was born October 21, 1941 in Willow Springs, Missouri, and his family moved to Memphis in 1950. At age fourteen, Cropper received a guitar which he mastered by playing with local bands. Cropper and friends formed The Royal Spades (later re-named The Mar-Keys) which released their first hit single, “Last Night” in 1961 through Stax Records. Cropper soon began to play guitar in Booker T. & the M.G.’s, and co-write many hit singles with other artists. He also played on Ringo Starr’s 1973 album. Cropper and Donald “Duck” Dunn went on to become members of Levon Helm’s RCO All-Stars before joining The Blues Brothers Band. He has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
70 – Ardent Studios
When high school buddies John Fry, John King, and Fred Smith decided to gather up a band and rent a studio in 1958, they were met with a disappointing outcome. Dissatisfied with the studio, Fry converted his parent’s garage into his own music space. The threesome was left to build their own equipment and eventually picked out a name that would encompass the passion and the spirit they had for their studio: Ardent. While recording the first Big Star album in 1971, Ardent moved to Madison Avenue where they are still located today. The studio established a name for itself with early classics by Sam & Dave, Led Zeppelin, Isaac Hayes, Leon Russell and The Staples Singers, then scored hits in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s with such artists as James Taylor, ZZ Top, R.E.M.,George Thorogood, The Allman Brothers, Bob Dylan, and Jimmie and Stevie Ray Vaughan. The legacy continues in the new millennium with hits recorded by The White Stripes, 3 Doors Down, Cat Power, North Mississippi Allstars, The Raconteurs, and award-winning music for such films as Hustle and Flow and Black Snake Moan. To date, Ardent has amassed over 70 gold and platinum albums and singles.
71 – Joyce Cobb
(1945 – )
Born in Oklahoma and raised in Nashville, Cobb grew up singing in her grandmother’s church. Joyce Cobb signed with a Stax Records subsidiary and later worked with RCA Records. Cobb has released dozens of songs including “Dig The Gold,” which made it to the Top 40 charts. She has also opened for bands like The Temptations, Muddy Waters, and Al Jarreau, toured Europe, and performed with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra. Joyce also starred in local productions of Ain’t Misbehavin’ and Beale Street Saturday Night. In the early 1990s she had her own club on Beale Street. In 2004 and 2006, Joyce received rave reviews and was nominated for Ostrander Awards for her performance in Theatre Memphis’ one-woman musical plays Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill and The Devil’s Music: The Life and Times of Bessie Smith.
72 – Arnold “Gatemouth” Moore
(1913 – 2004)
Born on November 8, 1913, in Topeka, Kansas, Arnold Dwight “Gatemouth” Moore is noted for his series of blues compositions including “Did You Ever Love A Woman,” “I Ain’t Mad At You, Pretty Baby,” and “Somebody’s Got To Go,” and was employed by bandleaders Tommy Douglas and Walter Barnes in the 30s and 40s. Moore went on to become a minister, where he left his love of blues to concentrate on gospel music. Moore’s later recordings were heard around the gospel circuit on many religious radio stations and television programs. In 1977, Moore recorded his first full album Great R&B Oldies.
73 – Preston Shannon
(1947 – )
Born in Olive Branch, Mississippi, Shannon’s family moved to Memphis when he was eight, where he developed strong vocal and guitar talents. Shannon’s career began when he toured for a couple of years as a member of soul singer Shirley Brown’s band. Fronting his own band since 1991, Preston is one of the area’s busiest musicians playing on Beale and throughout the Mid-South, occasional playing international dates as well. He recorded two albums through Rounder Records, with a third album produced by Willie Mitchell nominated for a Grammy Award.
74 – Cato Walker and Family
Cato Walker, Jr. drove B.B. King’s tour bus from 1952 until 1976. His wife, Polly Walker, also worked in B.B. King’s organization, usually coordinating travel and communicating with concert promoters. Polly worked for King from 1965 until a month before her death, and received a W.C. Handy Heritage Award in 2007. Cato Walker III worked in King’s band as a sax player and music director until 1979. Cato III also served as a music director at Stax and tour manager for Lou Rawls before joining Performa in 1982. He currently operates a consulting firm.
75 – Jeremiah Buckley
(1922 – 2003)
Known as “The Admiral,” Buckley was an Ambassador for Beale Street, bringing in dignitaries and hosting events often in the company of Silky Sullivan and Maynard the Goat. Born in Jackson Heights, New York, Buckley worked for 45 years as a cosmetics salesman. Faberge, his employer, relocated him to Memphis where he quickly became involved in the community. He served on the Liberty Bowl board for 11 years, often going to cities dressed as the mascots of their participating teams to drum up fan trips to Memphis. In later years he was known as “The Irish Admiral,” chief promoter for Silky O’Sullivan’s and an enthusiastic ambassador of Beale Street.
76 – Corey Osborn
(1985 – 2008)
Corey Osborn was born in 1985. At age 15, the guitar prodigy entered the International Blues Challenge competition which opened the door to Beale Street performances. The Corey Osborn Band played regular shows in B.B. King’s Blues Club from 2003 to 2008, with Corey even being invited onstage to perform songs with B.B. King himself. The Corey Osborn Band released their only album in 2004, as Osborne was killed in an untimely automobile accident on November, 28, 2008.
77 – Jimmie Lunceford
(1902 – 1947)
At the height of his career from 1937 to 1941, Lunceford led a big band with the polish, showmanship, and musicianship comparable to that seen in the bands of Count Basie, Earl Hines, and Duke Ellington. A native of Denver, he graduated from Fisk University in 1926 with a degree in music and then came to work as band director at Manassas High School in Memphis. In 1927 he organized a superb student band which toured and later turned professional. By 1934 they were playing Harlem’s Cotton Club, touring cross country, and recording for Decca Records. Lunceford died of a heart attack in 1947.
78 – Will Shade & the Memphis Jug Band
(1898 – 1966)
The Memphis Jug Band played in the 1920s and 1930s, recording over 100 songs between 1927 and 1934. The central figure to the band was Will Shade. The rest of the band, both personnel and instrumentation, was a continuous ebb and flow. At times the instruments featured might include rhythm guitar, kazoo, mandolin, harmonica, violin, an empty gallon jug, or whatever else a musician might have on hand on any given day. Shade played, among other things, a “bullfiddle” made from a washtub, broom handle, and string. The public lost interest in jug bands, and the Memphis Jug Band disbanded in 1935. Shade continued to assemble novelty bands until his death in 1966.
79 – Dewey Phillips
(1926 – 1968)
“Daddy-O” Dewey Phillips was one of rock ‘n’ roll’s pioneering disk jockeys. Dewey’s career began at Memphis’ WHBQ-AM, where he was the city’s leading radio personality for nine years and was the first to simulcast his “Red, Hot & Blue” show on both radio and television. Phillips’ on-air “hillbilly” persona included a frantic delivery and entertaining sense of humor. However, he also had a keen ear for music the listening public would enjoy, and he embraced both black and white music, which was abundant in post-World War II Memphis. He played a great deal of rhythm and blues, country music, boogie-woogie, and jazz as well as Sun & Stax Records artists. In July 1954, he was the first DJ to broadcast the young Elvis Presley‘s debut record. When the station eventually adopted a Top 40 format, Phillips’ freeform style was phased out. After working at smaller radio stations for a while, Phillips died of heart failure at age 42.
80 – Johnny Robertson
(1955 – 2003)
Johnny Robertson was a restaurateur who came to Beale Street very early on in the redevelopment era and had a tremendous impact on the growth of clubs and restaurants. Robertson opened Alfred’s at the corner of Beale & Third in 1986 and operated his club for 17 years up until his death. The first club owner to come to the street with significant restaurant experience, Robertson played a key role in developing Beale Street BBQ, Club Handy, Pee Wee’s Oyster Bar, Big Mamas, Joyce Cobb’s, and Dyers on Beale. He served at president of the Beale Street Merchants Association for 10 years. Robertson was named one of President Geo. H. W. Bush’s 1,000 Points of Light in recognition of his efforts organizing an annual Thanksgiving lunch for the homeless and impoverished, which eventually outgrew Beale Street and moved to the Cook Convention Center. He died in 2003 of cancer.
81 – Kevin Paige
(1966 - )
Kevin Paige, a talented singer and musician, began playing on Beale Street in the late 1980s at Club Handy and then at Alfred’s, where he has continued to perform weekly for over 20 years. He had several Top 40 hits of his own in the 1990s and served as Debbie Gibson’s opening act on her world tour in the early 90s. Since then he has performed on songs recorded by such artists as Martina McBride, 3 Doors Down, Better Than Ezra, and Todd Agnew. In addition to his continuing club work on Beale, Paige also leads music for the contemporary worship service at Lindenwood Christian Church in Midtown Memphis.
82 – Fred Ford/ Honeymoon Garner Trio
Ford (1930 – 1999), Garner (1931 – 2002), Tyus (1938 – 1995)
Serving as the house jazz trio at the Peabody Hotel for many years, The Fred Ford/Honeymoon Garner Trio were very talented players, both individually and as a group. Fred Ford graduated from Douglass High School in the 1940s and began playing baritone sax with Onzie Horne’s big band. Ford’s amazing versatility brought him to play with performers as varied as Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, Little Richard, Alex Chilton, Big Mama Thornton, and Charlie Rich. Robert “Honeymoon” Garner was a graduate of Manassas High School. He played piano and sang professionally at age 15, and later switched to organ. He was a DJ on WDIA from 1956 to 1968, and later worked as a jingle singer at the William B. Tanner Company. He played with Phineas Newborn, Jr., Bill Harvey, Onzie Horne, and many others. Later in his career he was the announcer for a 13-part Public Radio International series entitled Memphis: Cradle of Rock ‘n’ Soul. Bill Tyus was more than a great drummer, he was a true percussionist. Like Garner, Bill Tyus was a graduate of Douglass High School. Tyus majored in music at the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff, and came back to the area as band director at Munford High School. Tyus played in Emerson Able’s band Maestros Incorporated before becoming part of the Fred Ford/Honeymoon Garner Trio.
83 – R.L. Burnside
(1926 – 2006)
R. L. Burnside was born near Oxford, Mississippi and grew up a sharecropper in Marshall County. Moving to Chicago to escape that system, he found more misery there when his brother and uncle were both murdered within the span of one month. He returned to Mississippi in 1959 where he farmed during the week and played music on the weekends. He was influenced by John Lee Hooker and “Mississippi” Fred McDowell. Burnside made his first record in 1967 and spent the 1970s and 1980s playing with his family band, Sound Machine. Burnside became famous after being featured in a 1990s documentary based on Robert Palmer’s book, Deep Blues.
84 – Junior Kimbrough
(1930 – 1998)
David “Junior” Kimbrough lived near Holly Springs, Mississippi where he was a musician and juke joint proprietor. He began playing guitar in the 1950s, developing a unique style of syncopation. Beginning in the 1960 he recorded a few singles of note – particularly two with Charlie Feathers in 1969 – but achieved true recording fame with his 1992 album All Night Long produced by Robert Palmer.
85 – Chips Moman
(1936 – ) note ceremony was held 11/6/10
Musician, producer, writer, and champion of music, Moman has had an amazing career. He has produced records for a wide variety of artists including Carla Thomas, Elvis Presley, Ringo Starr, B.J. Thomas, Neil Diamond, Dusty Springfield, and The Box Tops. His versatile ability as a songwriter made hits for artists from Aretha Franklin (Do Right Woman, Do Right Man) to Waylon Jennings (Luckenbach Texas). In 1985 he produced theClass of ’55 album with Roy Orbison, Jonny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins. He is now semi-retired and living in LaGrange, GA.
86 – Fred McDowell
(1904 – 1972) note ceremony held 2/2/12
Born in Rossville, Tennessee, McDowell began playing the guitar at age 14. He moved to Memphis to work a variety of jobs and play music in 1926 and then moved to Como, Mississippi around 1940. He developed a distinctive style of bottleneck guitar. He was recorded in 1959 by Alan Lomax and subsequently played at many festivals and clubs. In spite of his album entitled I Do Not Play Rock & Roll many rock musicians were influenced by him. The Rolling Stones covered one of his songs on a 1971 album.
87 – Charles “Skip” Pitts
(1947 – 2012 ) note ceremony held 12/5/10
Skip Pitts is best known for the wah-wah guitar intro to Isaac Hayes’ “Theme from ‘Shaft’.” He was born in Washington, DC, and moved to Memphis in 1970 while playing with the Isley Brothers. He spent over 35 years recording and touring with Isaac Hayes. He also played with Al Green, Rufus Thomas, Teenie Hodges, Wilson Pickett, and many others. Pitts has given back to the community by serving as a music instructor for the Stax Music Academy. He is currently playing with The Bo-Keys.
88 – Gus Cannon & Cannon’s Jug Stompers
(1883 – 1979)
Born in Redbanks, Mississippi, Cannon moved to Clarksdale at a young age where he fashioned a banjo out of old bread pan and a discarded, broken guitar neck. After touring the region on the medicine show circuit, Cannon joined the Memphis Jug Band and later he formed his own jug band, Cannon’s Jug Stompers. He composed the song “Walk Right In” in 1913. It was revived and made a hit for a group called the Rooftop Singers in 1963, which brought him some fame but hardly any money. He made several recordings in the 1920s, and also recorded an album for Stax in 1963.
89 – Rosco Gordon
(1934 – 2002) note ceremony held 2/2/11
Born in Memphis, Gordon played piano in a unique boogie-woogie style with unusual rhythms and beats in the 1940s and 1950s. He was part of an informal group known as the Beale Streeters, which included Johnny Ace and Bobby “Blue” Bland. Gordon began recording with Sam Phillips in 1951 and had several successful records over the next decade. He moved to New York in the early 1960s where his music career dwindled and he pursued other business interests. He began performing again in the mid-1980s and was featured in a 2002 documentary which was made in conjunction with that year’s W.C. Handy Blues Music Awards. He died six weeks later.
90 – Little Laura Dukes
(1907 – 1992) note ceremony to be held in 2013
Her father, a Memphis musician and associate of W.C. Handy, had her on stage at age five. Performing was in her blood and she began as a dancer. She later learned the guitar from Robert Nighthawk in St. Louis in 1933. Soon she switched to the banjo-ukulele and then ukulele which was more suitable to her 4’7”, 85 pound stature. She performed throughout her lifetime, and was a fixture at Blues Alley well into the 1980s.
91 – Otha Turner
(1907 – 2003) note ceremony held 2/2/12
Turner, who lived near Como, Mississippi, kept alive a very old, pre-blues tradition of fife and drums music. Making a fife from cane, he played with a family group called the Rising Star Fife & Drum Corps. Though he received a great deal of media attention – from appearances on Good Morning America to All Things Considered and much more – he continued farming. Renowned for his Labor Day picnic celebrations featuring barbecued goat, it was appropriate that his 1998 album was entitled Everybody Hollerin’ Goat. A track from that album was used in Martin Scorsese’s 2002 film Gangs of New York.
92 – Carl Perkins
(1932 – 1998) note ceremony held 8/13/10
From the cotton fields of West Tennessee Perkins heard blues music and from this family radio he heard the country music of the Grand Ol Opry. From these influences he pioneered rockabilly. His hit “Blue Suede Shoes” made him famous. He recorded at Sun Studios.
93 – William Bell
(1939 – present) note ceremony held 8/5/10
Born in Memphis, Bell began recording with Stax in 1961. A composer of dozens of songs, Bell co-wrote “Born Under a Bad Sign” with Albert King and had a hit himself with “I Forgot to be Your Lover” which has been sampled by several artists since. In 1997 he received the Rhythm and Blues Foundation’s R&B Pioneer Award.
94 – Big Star
note ceremony held 11/13/10
The pop power group that produced three critically albums and included Alex Chilton, Jody Stephens, Andy Hummel, and Chris Bell. An American garage band response to the British invasion, the complex harmonies and thoughtful lyrics made the band a cult classic.
95 – Fred Jones, Jr.
( - present) note ceremony held 9/10/10
Concert promoter in Memphis for over 40 years, founder of the Southern Heritage Classic football game, part of the of founding ownership group of the Memphis Grizzlies. Fred Jones began his career in entertainment as road manager with Isaac Hayes. Returning to Memphis, Jones began booking acts such as Lou Rawls, Nancy Wilson, Ray Charles, Count Basie, B.B. King, Sarah Vaughan, John Davidson, Tina Turner and Bill Cosby. In 1977, Jones was named national tour manager for the Isley Brothers. He spent two years with the Isleys, while continuing to bring shows to Memphis. Jones created Summitt Management Corporation.
96 – Marty Lacker
( – present) note ceremony was held 11/6/10
A radio DJ who started a recording studio in the 1960s. He led Elvis to record at American Studios with Chips Moman for sessions which produced “Suspicious Minds”, ”Kentucky Rain”, and other hits. Lacker also produced & directed the legendary Memphis Music Awards in the 1970s. He was a founder of the NARAS chapter and the Memphis-Shelby County Music Commission.
97 – Fred Sanders
( 1940 - 2011) note ceremony was held 3/18/11
Now seen playing in Handy Park daily, Sanders was a house guitarist at the old Club Paradise where he played alongside B.B. King, Bobby Blue Bland, Albert King, and many others. He played with at Blues Alley on Front Street. In 2009 he was honored at the W.C. Handy Heritage Awards.
98 – Jim Gaines
( - present) note ceremony was held 10/28/10
Gaines recorded Huey Lewis & the News’ demo that resulted in his first album and produced the group’s first four albums. Since then Grammy-winning Gaines has recorded an diverse array of blues artists from Sandy Carroll and Ana Popovic to Stevie Ray Vaughn and Luther Allison.
99 – Sandy Carroll
( - present) note ceremony was held 10/28/10
Longtime Beale singer, Carroll was also a partner in Lafayette’s Corner and a talented songwriter In 1989, Albert King recorded Sandy’s, ‘If You Got It,’ which appeared on his final studio album, “Red House”. She then starting writing songs for her own full-length debut album, “Southern Woman,” released in 1993.
100 - John Elkington
( - present) note ceremony was held 9/27/10
Developer of Beale Street, Elkington took the two blocks of boarded up buildings between Second and Fourth and created a premier entertainment district in 1983 which now entertains thousands of tourists and employees many musicians. John initiated the Brass Note Walk of Fame in 1986.
101 - Bowlegs Miller
(1934 – 87) note ceremony was held 1/22/11
Gene “Bowlegs” Miller was a trumpeter and band leader. He grew up on Beale Street and as a child was a street dancer along with his brother “Baby Ray” Miller” , dancing for tips. He played in bands led by Finis Newborn and Tuff Green and later led bands of his own playing at legendary clubs such as Club Paradise, Club Handy, Curry’s Tropicana, and the Flamingo Room as well as at concerts organized by WDIA. He helped promote the careers of Ann Peebles, Peabo Bryson, and many others.
102 – Jim Dickinson
(1941- 2009) note ceremony was held 3/4/11
Dickinson built a worldwide reputation as a session player for the likes of Dylan and The Rolling Stones, a producer for influential groups including Big Star and The Replacements, a sometime solo artist and the patriarch of a small musical dynasty through his sons, Cody and Luther Dickinson of the North Mississippi Allstars. Dickinson’s reach and impact on Memphis music over the last four decades is significant; perhaps more than anyone, he was uniquely connected to the city’s historic past and its present.
103 – Mike Glenn
( - present) note ceremony was held 12/18/10
Long-time music promoter and operator of the New Daisy Theater, Mike has deep roots to downtown and Beale Street. He has discovered and nurtured talent regional while bringing national acts to the Memphis audience.
104 – Sherri Sawyer
(1957 – 2010) note ceremony was held 12/19/10
Longtime station manager of WREC/WEGR, Sherri played an important roles in events promoting Beale Street, charitable causes, downtown, and the city for the many years the stations were housed at 203 Beale Street.
105 – Dennis Brooks
(1950 – 2009) note ceremony was held 2/3/11
Brooks was one of the key figures behind the Beale Street Blues Society, a longtime member of The Blues Foundation and a frequent judge for the International Blues Competition, as well as board member of the Arkansas Blues Trail Marker Association. He also served as a concert promoter, manager and booking agent for several popular Memphis blues artist artists, including Billy Gibson, Blind Mississippi Morris, and the late Sean Costello, among others.
106 – Bobby Rush
(1936 – present) note ceremony was held 10/9/10
Veteran of the “chitlin’ circuit” Rush is a blues legend and a true entertainer. In addition to playing clubs and festivals, he is a goodwill ambassador playing for US troops abroad and in 2010 playing at the Great Wall of China. Born in Louisiana , he moved to Chicago at age 13 with his family and managed to form a band which included Freddie King, Luther Johnson, Bobby King, and Luther Allison . He also performed in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, with Boyd Gilmore, and Johnny ‘Big Moose’ Walker . He later moved to Jackson, MS and has since traveled the world.
107 – Jimmy Griffin
(1943 – 2005) note ceremony was held 10/20/10
A graduate of Kingsbury High School, Griffin was a co-founder pop-soft rock band Bread. Bread had 10 singles in Billboard’s top 20. He attended high school and later worked with Dorsey and Johnny Burnette. He had small roles in two films, “For Those Who Think Young” and Frank Sinatra’s “None But the Brave”. He was a prolific songwriter and won an Oscar for co-writing “For All We Know”, a song from the movie Lovers and Other Strangers. Griffin lived and recorded at Shoe Studio in Memphis. He recorded originally for Reprise, then went on to Imperial, Viva, Elektra, Polydor, BNA as well as on the Shoe label over a more than 40-year career.
108 – The Steinberg Family (Martha Jean, Luther, Milton, Lewie, Wilbur,Nan, Diane)
note ceremony held 11/14/10
109 – Marvell Thomas
(1941 – present) note ceremony held 2/19/11
Son of Rufus Thomas, Marvell is a talented keyboard player who has been working in studios (Stax, Muscle Shoals) since he was 17 and has gigged wide variety of artists, as both keyboard player and arranger, including Johnnie Taylor, The Staple Singers, Little Milton, The Emotions, Albert King, Mavis Staples, Yvonne Elliman, and Etta James. Marvell also co-produced and played keyboards on the multi-platinum album “Hot Buttered Soul” which launched the career of Isaac Hayes.
110 – Koko Taylor
(1928 – 2009) note ceremony held 5/10/12
Born in Memphis in 1928, Taylor signed with Chess Records in 1956 and remained top blues singer until she died in 2009. She received 25 Handy Awards and her last performance was at the Blues Music Awards program in Memphis two weeks before her death.
111 – Sleepy John Estes
(1904- 1977) note ceremony held 11/14/10
From Ripley, TN Estes grew up in Brownsville, TN and played guitar with a distinctive vocal accompaniment. He first recorded in Memphis in 1929 and made several sides over the next decade.
112 – Preston Lamm
( - present) note ceremony held 10/21/10
Lamm originally worked on the team with John Elkington to develop the Beale Street Entertainment District, but branched off to open his own club, Rum Boogie Cafe, which still continues today as one of the most successful live entertainment night spots in the city. Creating River City Management, Lamm owns or manages several clubs and restaurants in Memphis and Southaven.
113 – Tommy Peters
( - present) note ceremony held 5/3/11
Opening the west end anchor to Beale in 1993, Peters’ highly successful B.B. King’s Blues Club offers top quality music and food. He has since opened similar clubs in other cities.
114 – Bud Chittom
( – present) note ceremony held 5/10/11
Owner of Blues City Cafe and partner in Club 152 and other venues throughout the city, Chittom is a veteran in the entertainment business. He recently won the F&B contract for Beale Street Landing.
115 - Roosevelt Jamison
(1936 –2013) note ceremony held 9/9/11
Roosevelt Jamison was born in Olive Branch, Mississippi. During his childhood years, Jamison lived on Beale Street, where he delivered groceries and pharmacy items on bike to help support his mother and siblings. He graduated from Booker T. Washington High School. Jamison managed local musical groups and rehearsing them out of the back of the Interstate Blood Bank he ran on Beale Street. It was through these groups that he discovered O.V. Wright and James Carr. Jamison was a music manager, publicist and songwriter. His first and most notable composition was “That’s How Strong My Love Is”, recorded by O.V. Wright and released on Quinton Claunch’s Goldwax record label in 1964. The song has since been much covered, most notably by Otis Redding, appearing on his 1965 album The Great Otis Redding Sings Soul Ballads, and on Out of Our Heads by The Rolling Stones, also in 1965. In 1973 Humble Pie included it on their album Eat It. The song has also been covered on albums by Taj Mahal, Candi Staton, Percy Sledge and Buddy Miller, as well as by Roland Gift on the Beautiful Girls movie soundtrack.
116. Charles Lloyd
(1938 - present) note ceremony held 4/11/12
He began playing the saxophone at the age of 9. Pianist Phineas Newborn became his mentor, and took him to Irvin Reason for lessons. Lloyd worked in Phineas Sr’s band, and from the age of 12 worked as sideman in the blues bands of B.B. King, Howlin’ Wolf, Johnnie Ace, Bobbie “Blue” Bland, and others. His closest friend in high-school was trumpeter, Booker Little. In 1956 Lloyd moved to Los Angeles and earned a Master’s degree from the University of Southern California. During this period Lloyd played in Gerald Wilson’s big band and he also had his own group that included Billy
Higgins, Don Cherry, Bobby Hutcherson, and Terry Trotter. Lloyd joined Chico Hamilton in 1960, though the band was known for playing “chamber jazz” at the beginning of Lloyd’s tenure. His influence as a composer and a player quickly pushed it in a more progressive post-bop direction especially after Hamilton asked him to be the group’s “music director.” Lloyd’s key musical partner in the band was Hungarian guitarist, Gabor Szabo. In 1964 Lloyd left Hamilton’s group to join alto saxophonist Cannonball Adderly. During this period he recorded two albums as a leader for Columbia Records; his sidemen were other young musicians including Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams. Through 1965- 1969 Lloyd led a quartet with pianist, Keith Jarrett, bassist, Cecil McBee (later, Ron McClure), and drummer, Jack DeJohnette. The quartet’s music was an interesting fusion of straight-ahead post-bop, free jazz and world music which quickly caught the attention of both jazz fans and critics.
117. Herbie O’Mell
( - present) note ceremony held 6/10/12
O’Mell has had long and varied career in entertainment in Memphis and the Mid-South as a music promoter and publisher, nightclub operator, casino insider, travel agent, and movie location scout,. His involvement and contributions have been historic and he continues to be active in promoting Memphis music and entertainment culture. He was a founding member of the Memphis NARAS Chapter and he put together the city’s first integrated band. He has served on the Memphis & Shelby County Film and Television Commission for 25 years, six of them as chairman. He’s been personal manager to Jerry Lee Lewis, Ronnie Milsap and Jim Dickinson. He was business manager of Dan Penn and for Chips Moman and his 3-Alarm Studio. He is also producer of the TV show “Memphis Sounds with George Klein”.
118. The Memphis Boys
note ceremony held 8/13/12
The American Sound Studios House Band including Tommy Cogbill, Gene Chrisman, Bobby Emmons, Mike Leech, Bobby Wood, and Reggie Young provided backing on major hits for Elvis and others under the direction of Chips Moman.
119. The Gentrys
note ceremony held 9/7/12
Memphis pop stars of the 1960s, the band which included Jimmy Hart, Larry Raspberry, and other had a big hit with “Keep On Dancin’”
120 – Freeworld
note ceremony held 10/6/12
Celebrating 25 years of playing on Beale, every Sunday night at Blues City Cafe. Dr. Herman Green, Richard Cushing, and other members, past and present, offers consistently great, high energy, jam band,entertainment.
121 – Nokie Taylor
( – present) note ceremony held 10/6/12
Veteran Beale trumpet player has played with Freeworld and others for decades of terrific Memphis music in venues ranging from Cafe Soul to Jazz-A-Fire
122 – Emerson Able
(1931-2015) note ceremony held 11/14/12
Former band director at Manassas High School and outstanding sax player with great group, Able spans Memphis music history from Jimmie Lunceford to Isaac Hayes and beyond.
123 – Andrew “Sunbeam” Mitchell
( – ) note ceremony held 1/30/13 at Schwab’s
The music promoter and club owner was a powerful force in Memphis music for decades, operating venues such as Club Ebony, Club Handy, Club Paradise, and the Mitchell Hotel. The list of performers who played his clubs is long and legendary – B.B. King as an opening act for Louis Jordan, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Johnny Ace, Ike and Tina Turner, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Fred Ford, Stan Kenton, Lou Rawls, Little Richard, Denise LaSalle, Joe Simon, Count Basie, Albert King and Tyrone Davis.
124. Lyman Aldrich
( - present) ceremony held May 2, 2013 at Rum Boogie
Lyman Aldrich is a founder of the Memphis In May International Festival which has produced the Beale Street Music Festival for 36 years and also founder of Memphis Music, Inc. which brought all of the music studios in Memphis together to promote Memphis music around the world.
125. B. B. Cunningham
(1942 – 2012) ceremony held May 29, 2013
B.B. Cunningham was a bass player with Jerry Lee Lewis, guitarist with The Hombres, and recording engineer . From trading riffs with future Mar-Kays to recording “Let It All Hang Out” to engineering studio sessions, the versatile Cunningham made an indelible mark on Memphis music from his teen years at Messick until his tragic death in 2012.
126. Knox Phillips
July 13, 2013 at Levitt Shell
His long involvement with Memphis music production included engineer producer, and studio owner. He was involved with hits for Willie Nelson, Jerry Jeff Walker, Amazing Rhythm Aces, John Prine, Jerry Lee Lewis, and many more. He also worked placing songs in television and film. Knox was instrumental in the founding of the NARAS – Memphis chapter.
127. Di Anne Price
( -2013) ceremony held July 21, 2013 at BB King’s Blues Club
Singer, pianist, entertainer, beloved soul who passed too soon.
126. Earl ‘The Pearl” Banks
ceremony held August 3, 2013 at The Band Box
Veteran bluesman Earl “The Pearl” has played with an array of notables including O.V. Wright, Albert King, Koko Taylor, and many more. He has played for over 50 years on Beale Street and truly connects the district to its musical heritage.
127. Ann Peebles
(1947- ) ceremony held October 12, 2013 at The Band Box
Recording at Hi Records, Peebles had hits with “I Can’t Stand the Rain” and “I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down” and more. From working with Bowlegs Miller and Willie Mitchell then to Cyndi Lauper now, Peebles has maintained a great voice and talent.
130. Roland Janes
(1933-2013) Ceremony November 7, 2013 at Memphis Music Hall of Fame ceremony
After serving in the Korean War, Janes moved to Memphis and became a studio musician for Sam Phillips at Sun Studios. He left Sun to open his own Sonic Recording in 1963. We worked at Memphis Sounds studio as an engineer and producer in 1977 and work again with Phillps at Sam Phillips Recording in 1982. In his long career in production, he worked with a host of various artists before passing away in 2013.
131. James Williams
(1951 – 2004) Ceremony held November 23, 2013 at Alfred’s on Beale
James Williams was born in 1951 in Memphis. He earned a degree in Music Education at Memphis State, but was also immersed in gospel and jazz. Beginning in his teen years he was organist at Eastern Start Baptist Church. As a fan of Phineas Newborn Jr, spent time with Harold Mabern, Jamil Nasser, George Coleman, and Frank Strozier. He accepted a teaching position at Berklee in his early 20s. In the Boston area he played with many touring musicians including Milt Jackson, Sonny Stitt, and Red Norvo. Later he spent four years as part of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers where he played with Wynton Marsalis and other. He struck out on his own in the mid-80s playing and recording with various lineups and forming his own trios for performance and recording. He returned to music education as well. Williams died of liver cancer in 2004.
132. Bill Black
(1926-1965) Ceremony held on July 5, 2014 At Levitt Shell
Born in Memphis, Bill Black honed his skills playing cigar box guitar as a teen. After a stinit in the Army during WWII, Black returned to Memphis and began performing as a bass fiddle player. He connected with Scotty Moore and they played with several musicians around town. Sam Phillips asked them to back Elvis Presley for a recording session which resulted in That’s Allright Mama. Black toured with Elvis for a few years before leaving to founded the Bill Black Combo. He opened a recording studio. The Combo was asked to tour with the Beatles in 1964 although Black was too ill to participate and he passed away in 1965.
133. The Dempseys
Ceremony at The Band Box on August 12, 2014
Brad Birkedahl, Joe Fick, and Ron Perrone Jr. were high school friends in Tacoma, WA. They formed the band in 1994 while still in high school. Brad, an Elvis fan as a kid, was a member of the Elvis Chicago Style Fan Club. He mailed them a demo tape of the band performing some Elvis songs. The guys were shocked when the fan club asked them to open for Carl Perkins at a Memphis show in 1996.
Todd Morgan, former communications director at Graceland, saw them and asked them to perform at the grand opening of Elvis Presley’s Memphis on Beale Street in 1997.
Todd then asked them to become the house band at the new nightclub, so they moved to Memphis in early 1998 and began playing 5-6 nights at week at the new nightclub.
From 1998-2003, The Dempseys held a steady gig at the club, while building an international reputation for a high-quality, high-octane, authentic rockabilly. They began playing festivals around the country, casinos, private events, and other nightclubs around the region. They developed big followings in Little Rock, Nashville, Knoxville, and Key West in particular.
When Elvis Presley’s Memphis closed in 2003, the band moved a half-block east the Blues City Café. They played there 4-5 nights a week from 2003-2009.
134. Mark James
(1940- ) Ceremony August 14, 2014 at Graceland
A staff songwriter with Chips Moman, James produced hits such as Hooked on Feeling for BJ Thomas and Suspicious Minds for Elvis Presley. His songs were also recorded by artists as varied as Brenda Lee, Willie Nelson, and the Pet Shop Boys.
135. King Beez
September 30, 2014 at B. B. King’s Blues Club
Serving as ambassadors of Memphis soul and blues, the high energy house band of B.B. King’s Blues Club has entertained countless thousands of tourists from around the world in the 20 years of playing at the western anchor of the Beale Street entertainment district. Venturing outside the club, the band has played numerous parties, galas, and festivals in the Mid-South. The current line up of the group includes Solomon McDaniel on keyboards, Charlton Johnson on guitar, James Jackson on bass guitar, Lafayette Adair on drums, Mike Krepper on sax, and vocalists Ricky & Angela Adkisson. Alumni of the group include over a dozen well known Memphis musicians such as Preston Shannon, Lannie McMillan, and Melvin Rodgers,
136. Charlie Wood
(1967- ) Ceremony held October 15, 2014 at King’s Palace
A versatile player, adept at jazz, blue, R&B, and more, Charlie Wood served as the house musical anchor at King’s Palace for several years and attracted many fine players to sit in and jam. The singer, songwriter, and arranger is now living and playing in the UK.
137. Jimi Jamison
(1951-2014) Ceremony held October 26, 2014 at new Hard Rock Cafe
From fronting Target early in his career to Cobra and then Survivor, Jamison continued to broaden the audience for his sound. Perhaps his biggest audience would be fans of Baywthc who heard him sing the theme on that program.
138. Sid Selvidge
139. Floyd Newman
Ceremony held on November 1, 2015 in The Band Box
Floyd Newman was a bandleader, instructor, and saxophonist. At the legendary Plantation Inn in West Memphis, he led a band that featured a young Isaac Hayes on keyboards and famed Hi Rhythm Section drummer Howard Grimes. He was mainstay at Stax, playing with Otis Redding, Booker T & the MGs, Isaac Hayes, and more. He also played with Jackie Brenston, BB King, Sam Cooke, and many others.
140. John Fry
(1944-2014) Ceremony held April 24 a Levitt Shell
He gave Memphis recording a new era with Ardent and recorded great talents including REM, ZZ Top, Led Zeppelin, Gin Blossoms, and many more. He also nurtured local talent such at Big Star and brought together talented producers and engineers such as Terry Manning, Jim Gaines, and Jim Dickinson. He was involved in many aspect of the music industry supporting program such as NARAS, the Visible School, and the University of Memphis.
141. Barbara Blue
Ceremony held May 8, 2015 at Silky O’Sullivan’s
From meeting Silky on the sidewalk and an impromptu audition to reigning keyboard queen of Beale after 18 years in Silky O’Sullivan, Barbara is an amazing entertainer.
142. Mickey Gregory
Ceremony held May 18, 2015 at The Band Box
Mickey Gregory was born in Memphis Tennessee. He attended Manassas and studied music under the direction of Onzie Horne. He has played in back up bands for Willie Mitchell’s Hi-Recording, Stevie Wonder, Bill Withers, Rufus Thomas, OV Wright commemorative concert band and Stax studio band. Mickey toured internationally as a member of the Isaac Hayes Movement. Mickey Gregory is recipient of numerous music awards including 2002 recipient of the Memphis Handy Awards. Presently he is part of the Early Grove Baptist Church Music Department and a member of Elmo and the Shades.
143. Evelyn "The Whip" Young
144. Larry Raspberry & The Highsteppers
145. Martha Ellen Maxwell
First director of the Memphis Film and Music Commission – she was a long time director of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra. For decades she hosted a show promoting Memphis Music on the Library Cable Channel.
146. Robert Wolfman Belfour
He was an American blues musician - born in Red Banks, Mississippi. His father taught him the guitar at a young age and he continued his tutelage in the blues from musicians Otha Turner, R. L. Burnside, and Junior Kimbrough. Kimbrough, in particular, had a profound influence on him. His music is deeply rooted in Mississippi Hill Country traditions, in contrast to those of delta blues. His playing is characterized by a deeply percussive attack and alternate tunings. His father died when Belfour was thirteen, and his music was relegated to what free time he had, as his energy went to helping his mother provide for the family. In 1959, he married Noreen Norman and moved to Memphis, Tennessee, where he would work in construction for the next 35 years. In the 1980s, Belfour began playing on Beale Street and in 1994 he had eight songs featured on David Evans's compilation album, The Spirit Lives On, Deep South Country Blues and Spirituals in the 1990s, released by the German Hot Fox label. This led him to Fat Possum Records and his first album What's Wrong With You, released in 2000.
147. Brad Webb
Brad Webb was born and raised in Memphis. He got his first guitar and started playing gigs at 15 (1966),
As early as 1966, Brad and his cousin Nick Kourvelas (who played drums) would take the bus downtown to check out Beale Street. He joined the Navy during the Vietnam war, and when he got out he started to play with people like Roland Robinson from Eddie Floyd/Buddy Miles Band. Then Brad met his cousin, the famous Teenie Hodge's from the Hi Rhythm Section. Brad has been producing, writing, recording and playing guitar with Blind Mississippi Morris since 1986. They all performed with Uncle Ben and His Nephews as Beale Street came alive again in the mid 80's. Brad started Webb Studio in 1985, he wanted to record a lot of the music he was hearing. The first people Brad recorded were Uncle Ben, Ollie "Nightingale" Hoskins, and Roosevelt Briggs. He went on and recorded CDs with Willie Foster, Fred Sanders, John Weston, Henry Townsend, Blind Mississippi Morris, Eric Hughes Band, Robert "Nighthawk" Tooms and The Wompas Cats, Phillip Dale Durham of the 60's local favorite "Moloch", and The Pocket Rockets featuring Suzanne Buell. Brad continues to record local
musicians at his studio and teach guitar. He also hosts the weekly Memphis Blues Society Sunday Evening Jam at Rum Boogie.
148. Booker Little
Booker little was a Memphis native and graduate of Manassas High School, where he was classmates with George Coleman, Charles Lloyd, Frank Strozier, Harold Mabern, and Hank Crawford. Little grew up playing on Beale Street, performing with Phineas Newborn and others by the age of 12. He went to the Chicago Conservatory and then to New York and served as a mentor to the younger Memphis musicians who followed--Coleman, Mabern, and Lloyd all cite him as a major influence and teacher about the business. He played on many notable and adventurous records with Max Roach, John Coltrane, Eric Dolphy, and MJT +3, in addition to recordings with his fellow Memphians. He also headlined an influential quartet at the Five Spot in New York.
He died in 1963 at the age of 23; his influence and the amount of recordings he made in that time is stunning. Many people cite him as the reason that Memphis jazz music is often seen as progressive and even bordering on avant garde. Charles Lloyd said - “There needs to be a statue of Booker Little in Memphis.”
149. John Hampton
John Hampton was a Grammy Award-winning producer and engineer at the famous Ardent Studios. Over the course of 40-year career, Hampton collaborated with some of music’s most celebrated acts. He mixed records for all three of Jack White’s bands, specifically The White Stripes’Get Behind Me Satan, The Dead Weather’s Sea of Cowards, and The Raconteurs’ “Broken Boy Soldiers” and “Hands”. He also engineered a pair of archival records for The Replacements, and recorded with John Hiatt, Alex Chilton, The Cramps, The Afghan Whigs, and Jimmie Vaughn.
For his efforts, Hampton earned two Grammy Awards.
150. Al James