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Encyclopedia > Rufus Thomas
Rufus Thomas Jr.
Rufus Thomas, "The World's Oldest Teenager".
Rufus Thomas, "The World's Oldest Teenager".
Background information
Born March 27, 1917
in Cayce, Mississippi, USA
Died December 5, 2001
in Memphis, Tennessee
Genre(s) R&B
Memphis Soul
Southern soul
Blues
Occupation(s) Vocalist
Instrument(s) Vocals
Label(s) Stax Records
Associated
acts
Carla Thomas
Rufus' 1990 album for Alligator Records, That Woman Is Poison!
Rufus' 1990 album for Alligator Records, That Woman Is Poison!

Rufus Thomas (March 26, 1917December 15, 2001) was a rhythm and blues and soul singer from Memphis, Tennessee, who recorded on Sun Records in the 1950s and on Stax Records in the 1960s and 1970s. He was the father of soul singer Carla Thomas ("B-A-B-Y") and keyboard player Marvell Thomas. A third daughter, Vaneese, a former French teacher, for years had a recording studio in upstate New York where she sang for television commercials. Image File history File linksMetadata Rufusthomas. ... March 27 is the 86th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (87th in leap years). ... Year 1917 (MCMXVII) was a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar (see link for calendar) or a common year starting on Tuesday of the 13-day slower Julian calendar (see: 1917 Julian calendar). ... Cayce may refer to: Cayce, Kentucky Cayce, South Carolina Edgar Cayce This is a disambiguation page, a list of pages that otherwise might share the same title. ... This article does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... December 5 is the 339th day (340th in leap years) of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... 2001 (MMI) was a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar. ... For other uses, see Memphis (disambiguation). ... Official language(s) English Capital Nashville Largest city Memphis Largest metro area Nashville Area  Ranked 36th  - Total 42,169 sq mi (109,247 km²)  - Width 120 miles (195 km)  - Length 440 miles (710 km)  - % water 2. ... A music genre is a category (or genre) of pieces of music that share a certain style or basic musical language (van der Merwe 1989, p. ... Rhythm and blues (or R & B) is a musical marketing term introduced in the United States in the late 1940s by Billboard magazine. ... Southern soul is a style of music that falls within the larger soul music and r&b Music genres. ... Blues is a vocal and instrumental musical form which evolved from African American spirituals, shouts, work songs and chants and has its earliest stylistic roots in West Africa. ... In music a singer or vocalist is a type of musician who sings, i. ... A musical instrument is a device constructed or modified with the purpose of making music. ... In music a singer or vocalist is a type of musician who sings, i. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Stax Records was a Memphis, Tennessee based record label that was located there from 1959 to 1976. ... Carla Thomas (born December 21, 1942 in Memphis, Tennessee) is often referred to as the Queen of Memphis Soul. ... Image File history File links Rufusthomaspoison. ... Image File history File links Rufusthomaspoison. ... March 26 is the 85th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (86th in leap years). ... Year 1917 (MCMXVII) was a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar (see link for calendar) or a common year starting on Tuesday of the 13-day slower Julian calendar (see: 1917 Julian calendar). ... December 15 is the 349th day of the year (350th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 2001 (MMI) was a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Rhythm and blues (aka R&B or RnB) is a popular music genre combining jazz, gospel, and blues influences — first performed by African American artists. ... For other uses, see Soul music (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Memphis (disambiguation). ... Official language(s) English Capital Nashville Largest city Memphis Largest metro area Nashville Area  Ranked 36th  - Total 42,169 sq mi (109,247 km²)  - Width 120 miles (195 km)  - Length 440 miles (710 km)  - % water 2. ... Label of the fourth Sun Records Sun Records has been the name for four 20th century record labels. ... // Recovering from World War II and its aftermath, the economic miracle emerged in West Germany and Italy. ... Stax Records was a Memphis, Tennessee based record label that was located there from 1959 to 1976. ... The 1960s decade refers to the years from January 1, 1960 to December 31, 1969, inclusive. ... Template:A year The 1970s decade refers to the years from 1970 to 1979, inclusive. ... Carla Thomas (born December 21, 1942 in Memphis, Tennessee) is often referred to as the Queen of Memphis Soul. ...

Contents

Early life and education

Born a sharecropper's son in the rural community of Cayce, Mississippi, Thomas moved to Memphis with his family at age 2. His mother was “a church woman.” Thomas made his artistic debut at the age of 6 playing a frog in a school theatrical production. Much later in life, he would impersonate all kinds of animals: screeching cats, funky chickens and penguins, and mournful dogs. By age 10, he was a tap dancer, performing in amateur productions at Memphis' Booker T. Washington High School. Booker T. Washington he was dimb Booker Taliaferro Washington (April 5, 1856, – November 14, 1915) was an American political leader, educator and author. ...


Thomas attended one semester at Tennessee A&I University, but due to economic conditions left to pursue a career as a professional entertainer, joining up in 1936 with the Rabbit Foot Minstrels, an all-black revue that toured the South. He then worked for twenty-two years at a textile plant and didn't leave that job until about 1963, around the time of his “Dog” hits. He started at WDIA in 1951 (despite biographies placing his start a year earlier). At WDIA, he hosted an afternoon show and Hoot and Holler. WDIA, featuring an African-American format, was known as "the mother station of the Negroes" and became an important source of blues and R&B music for a generation, its audience consisting of white as well as black listeners. Thomas's mentor was Nat D. Williams, a pioneer black deejay at WDIA as well as Thomas's high school history teacher, columnist for black newspapers, and host of an amateur show at Memphis's Palace Theater. For years Thomas himself took hosting duties for the amateur show and, in that capacity, is credited with the discovery of B.B. King. Tennessee State University (TSU) is a comprehensive, urban, coeducational land-grant university founded in 1912. ...


Professional singing career

He made his professional singing debut at the Elks Club on Beale Street in Memphis, filling in for another singer at the last minute. He made his first 78 rpm record in 1943 for the Star Talent label in Texas, "I'll Be a Good Boy", backed with "I'm So Worried." Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks had modest beginnings in 1868 as a drinking club (then called the Jolly Corks) established as a private club to elude New York City laws governing the opening hours of public taverns. ... Beale Street is a street in Memphis, Tennessee and a significant location in African-American history and the history of the blues. ... Manufacturers put records inside protective and decorative cardboard jackets and an inner paper sleeve to protect the grooves from dust and scratches. ...


He also become an on-air personality with WDIA, one of the first radio stations in the US to feature an all-black staff and programming geared toward blacks. He become one of the station's most popular DJs. WDIA is an AM radio station in Memphis, TN. Similar to the Orange Mound neighborhood in Memphis, it was the first ever American radio station programmed by Negroes. ...


His celebrity was such that in 1953 he recorded an "answer record" to Big Mama Thornton's hit, "Hound Dog" called "Bear Cat" and released on Sun Records. Although the song was the label's first hit, a copyright-infringement suit ensued and nearly bankrupted Sam Phillips' record label. Later, Rufus was one of the African American artists released by Sam Phillips as he oriented his label more toward white audiences and signed the likes of Elvis Presley in the place of the dismissed musicians. 1953 (MCMLIII) was a common year starting on Thursday. ... Big Mama Thornton album cover Willie Mae (Big Mama) Thornton (December 11, 1926 - July 25, 1984) was an American blues singer. ... Hound Dog is a twelve-bar blues recorded in of two versions that demonstrate the transition from rhythm and blues to rock and roll. ... Label of the fourth Sun Records Sun Records has been the name for four 20th century record labels. ... Sam Phillips, born Samuel Cornelius Phillips (January 5, 1923 – June 30, 2003), was a record producer who played an important role in the emergence of rock and roll as the major form of popular music in the 1950s. ...


Nevertheless, Rufus remembered spinning Elvis discs on WDIA. Management at the station forbade the deejays from playing Elvis during the years from 1953 to 1956. "They said blacks wouldn't listen to Elvis. I tried to play him, I tried to tell them. No one can speak for a whole group." At a major WDIA benefit in 1956 Rufus appeared, dressed as Chief Rocking Horse, and led Elvis onto stage in front of an all-black audience, arguing that introductions should be held until the end of the show, lest wild applause ensue. After Elvis did his pelvic gyration that evening, the inevitable frenzy of the kids in the audience did in fact drown out the emcees,proving Rufus right. "After that night," recalled Rufus, "we were allowed to play Elvis."


The prime of Rufus's recording career came in the 1960s and early 1970s, when he was on the Stax roster, having one of the first hit sides at that historic label. At Stax, he recorded songs when he had something to record, as tunes came up, never collecting songs to be done in blocks. Songs were usually recorded in one or two takes, live. No one ever had a good idea which sides would make hits at Stax, the artists had no control over what got released, and little of what went on was plotted out or scripted in any way.


Rufus was often backed by Booker T. and the MG's or the Bar-Kays, and his bands included many of the era's finest musicians. "I'll tell you a story," Rufus once explained, "not many people know this one. It was the same club where I later wrote 'Do the Funky Chicken,' in Covington, Tennessee. I had two guitar players, I can’t remember the second one’s name at the time, but the first one was a young guy, playin' just terrible, loud, out of tune, all over the place. After a while, I said, 'Send him home, I can't use a guitar player who plays like that.' That dude was Jimi Hendrix."


Late in his career, for years, Rufus performed at the Poretta Festival in Italy. In 1996 Rufus and William Bell headlined at the Olympics in Atlanta. In September 1997, he thrilled a crowd of fans at the Framingham (Massachusetts) Blues Festival with his performance, which included an updated version of "Walking the Dog," and completely upstaged the other performers on the bill (including Leon Russell and Levon Helm).


A baseball devotee, Rufus was a fan of the Atlanta Braves. He claimed never to be able to turn down ice cream--and favored vanilla drenched in maraschino cherry juice. His beverages of choice, rather than roadhouse specialties, were sweetened iced tea and fruit-flavored sodas. Until late in his life, he remained an avid listener of music, respecting artists as diverse as Prince, Preston Shannon, and Denise Lasalle. A collaboration with alternative band Jon Spencer Blues Explosion was not so successful as his own later recordings. Highlights of his career included calming an unruly crowd at the early 'seventies Wattstax Festival, performing with James Brown's band, and the knowledge that, along with James Brown and a handful of others, he was a key to the emergence of funk.


Unsuccessful recordings

He recorded three songs for the Meteor record label, none of which were hits, and continued to perform in clubs and on the radio.


In 1960, he recorded the track "Cause I Love You" with his daughter Carla, for the fledgling Stax Records (at that time still called Satellite Records). His biggest hit with Stax was "Walking the Dog", which has been covered by The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, The Trashmen, Dave Stewart, Ratt, TheSonics, John Cale, and Barbara Gaskin, and was played live by the Grateful Dead in both 1970 and 1984. 1960 (MCMLX) was a leap year starting on Friday (the link is to a full 1960 calendar). ... Carla Thomas (born December 21, 1942 in Memphis, Tennessee) is often referred to as the Queen of Memphis Soul. ... “Rolling Stones” redirects here. ... Aerosmith is a prominent American rock band, regarded by some as Americas Greatest Rock and Roll Band. [1][2] Although they are known as the bad boys from Boston, none of the bands members are actually from that city. ... The Trashmen were a rock and roll band formed in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1962. ... Dave Stewart is a musician who is best known for recording with singer Barbara Gaskin. ... This article contains a trivia section. ... John Davies Cale (born March 9, 1942) is a Welsh musician, songwriter and record producer. ... Barbara Gaskin is a British musician who, with her partner Germany with a cover of the song Its my party. ... The Grateful Dead were an American rock band formed in 1965 in San Francisco. ... 1970 (MCMLXX) was a common year starting on Thursday. ... 1984 (MCMLXXXIV) was a leap year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ...


He was often referred to as "The World's Oldest Teenager", a nickname he gave himself in the spirit of his youth- and dance-oriented songs. He was a charismatic stage presence, telling jokes and dancing, and wearing capes and brightly colored hot pants.


Hit records

Thomas had a number of hits in the late 1960s and early 1970s, notably a string of songs that were tied to a then-current dance craze: "Do the Funky Chicken", from 1970[1] (instructions for which can be found here[2]), "(Do the) Push and Pull", "The Breakdown" and "Do the Penguin". He performed at Wattstax in 1972, leading a crowd of 40,000 in the "Funky Chicken." The 1960s decade refers to the years from January 1, 1960 to December 31, 1969, inclusive. ... Template:A year The 1970s decade refers to the years from 1970 to 1979, inclusive. ... For other uses, see Dance (disambiguation). ... Wattstax DVD Cover Wattstax was a festival at the Los Angeles Coliseum on August 20, 1972 organized by Memphiss Stax Records to commemorate the seventh anniversary of the Watts riots. ...


He played an important part in the Stax reunion in 1988, and had a small role in the 1989 Jim Jarmusch film Mystery Train, a movie also featuring Joe Strummer of The Clash and, as a motel night clerk, Screamin' Jay Hawkins. Rufus released an album of straight-ahead blues, That Woman is Poison!, with Alligator Records in 1990. Jim Jarmusch Jim Jarmusch (born January 22, 1953 in Akron, Ohio) is a noted American independent film director. ... Mystery Train is a 1989 comedy movie written and directed by independent film director Jim Jarmusch and set in Memphis, Tennessee. ... Alligator Records is the Chicago-based independent record label set up by Bruce Iglauer with his own savings to record and produce his favorite band Hound Dog Taylor & The HouseRockers. ... MCMXC redirects here; for the Enigma album, see MCMXC a. ...


Thomas was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2001. The Blues Hall of Fame is a listing of people who have significantly contributed to blues music. ... 2001 (MMI) was a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar. ...


Last appearance: the D.A. Pennebaker-directed documentary "Only the Strong Survive" (2003) in which he co-stars with daughter Carla.


Death

He died later that year at St. Francis Hospital in Memphis. A street is named in his honor, just off Beale Street in Memphis.


References

  • Greenberg, Steve. Do the Funky Somethin': The Best of Rufus Thomas (liner notes), Rhino Records, 1996.
  • Unterberger, Richie. Rufus Thomas Biography at Allmusic.com. Retrieved December 26, 2005.
  • Rufus Thomas was referenced by Samuel L. Jackson in Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill.
  • Rufus Thomas is referred to in the Beastie Boys song 'The Maestro'; "I feel like Rufus Thomas the Crown Prince of Dance".

The All Music Guide (AMG) is a large, comprehensive and high quality metadata database about music. ... “Samuel Jackson” redirects here. ... Quentin Jerome Tarantino (born March 27, 1963) is an American film director, actor, and Oscar-winning screenwriter. ... It has been suggested that this article be split into articles entitled Kill Bill: Vol. ... The Beastie Boys are a hip hop group from the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn and Manhattan. ...

External links

  • http://www.shs.starkville.k12.ms.us/mswm/MSWritersAndMusicians/musicians/ThomasR.html

  Results from FactBites:
 
RUFUS THOMAS.com | History (780 words)
Rufus Thomas was born on March 26, 1917 in the tiny hamlet of Cayce, Mississippi, a stone's throw from the Tennessee line.
When Rufus was two-years-old, the family packed up and moved to Memphis where he would spend the rest of his life and where his music and personality would leave an indelible mark, not only on the city, but also on American culture and popular music around the world.
Rufus continued to be an on-air personality at WDIA influencing musicians in the Memphis area for the next 40 years, while still creating and performing his own music.
Rufus Thomas - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (596 words)
Rufus Thomas (March 26, 1917 – December 15, 2001) was a rhythm and blues and soul singer from Memphis, Tennessee, who recorded on Sun Records in the 1950s and on Stax Records in the 1960s and 1970s.
Thomas had a number of hits in the late 1960s and early 1970s, notably a string of songs that were tied to a then-current dance craze: "Do the Funky Chicken", "(Do the) Push and Pull", "The Breakdown" and "Do the Penguin".
Thomas was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2001.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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