April 26, 2008

Henry Glover, Musical Trailblazer

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The mildly fabulous DJ D played another Ragged But Right Show set at Brooklysn own Teddy's Bar & Grill Thursday night. This one featured an hour and a half tribute to an unsung pioneer in pop music, Henry Glover. The following sheet was handed to Tedddy's patrons.

Tonight from around 9:30 to 11:00, DJ D will be spinning a tribute to a remarkable man, Henry Glover. Born Black in 1921 in Hot Springs, AK, he broke out of the Jim Crow South with his trumpet playing, winning a seat as a young man in touring dance bands. In 1945, Syd Nathan, Jewish owner of King Records in Cincinnati, hired Glover out of Lucky Millinder’s Orchestra to scout talent and material, to beef up King’s presence in the “race records” market.

Glover did that and much more, writing songs and arrangements, producing sessions and running King’s NY office. He became the first high Black executive with a white-owned record company. But another Henry Glover “first” suggests the breadth of his accomplishments. He was the first Black producer to be elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame. A fan of hillbilly music from his boyhood, he wrote and produced for country stars on King’s roster like Cowboy Copas and Hackshaw Hawkins.

Glover’s influence on the birth of rock and roll was enormous. Perhaps most significantly, he helped take a simple Charlie Parker riff from “Now’s the Time” and turn it into “The Hucklebuck,” an insanely catchy dance tune that swept the Black community (and leaked over into the “popular”—i.e. white--market on its own). Then he took the same tune, slowed it down, lost half the riff, and morphed it into “Blues Stay Away From Me,” a massive country hit for the Delmore Brothers and dozens of others, itself to be covered by Black artists like B.B. King. All before 1950. (Listen for the Delmore Brothers cut; King Curtis’s “Hucklebuck” will be up next—you can’t miss the connection.)

But enough musicology—just enjoy Glover-connected smashes like “Let The Little Girl Dance,” “Easier Said Than Done,” “Peppermint Twist,” and “Drown In My Own Tears.” Then order another round, and drink to his memory—Henry Glover died in Saint Albans, 17 years ago this month.

And here's what it's all about. There are a number of good "Hucklebuck' versions on YouTube, and some real stinkers, but here's a nice short instrumental version by some Brits called "Blast Off Rockabilly."

I was likewise unable to find any '40s or '50s videos of "Blues Stay Away From Me," but this live collaboration between the Judds and Carl Perkins demonstrates nicely why the tune has become an evergreen.

And finally, no actual video at all, but a YouTube version of the great #1 by The Essex, "Easier Said Than Done."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was surfing around trying to find some biographical info on henry Glover and found your homage to the great man. Sad that he isn't as lauded as Cole Porter!