The Blues Rockers

Aristocrat 407 was The Blues Rockers – “Trouble in my home/Times are getting hard”. The Blues Rockers were James Watts (Nothing known), Willie Mabon (October 24, 1925 – April 19, 1985), Eddie El (nothing known), an unknown electric guitarist, and Earl Dranes (nothing known).

Sammy Louis


Sammy Louis | Uncredited photo. Copyright details being sought | tc170

The Rev. “Singing” Sammy Lewis was born in 1921 and began singing with the Roberta Martin Singers. He became a popular gospel music singer. In 1949 he recorded four sessions with Aristocrat, who managed to spell his surname incorrectly on the labels. Shortly afterwards he moved to the recently established local Vee Jay record company and thence to other companies. He returned to Chess and recorded an album “What can I do” under the direction of Monk Higgins & Cash McCall for Checker.

Rev. Sammy Lewis died in 1994.

Jump Jackson


The Jump Jackson Band | Photo: Art Rupe/Specialty Records | Collection of Billy Vera | tc171

Another signing to Aristocrat in the early part of 1947 was Jump Jackson and his orchestra. Armand “Jump” Jackson was born on March 25, 1917 and died on January 31, 1985. Jackson was bandleader on sessions for labels such as Columbia, Specialty, and Aristocrat; his band backed St. Louis Jimmy, Roosevelt Sykes, Sunnyland Slim and others. He also drummed on at least a dozen classic urban blues albums, including sets by John Lee Hooker and Robert Nighthawk. Having a head for business, Jackson was also a bookings manager and founded his own record company, La Salle Records. In 1962, Jackson was chosen as the drummer for the first American Folk Blues Festival tour of Europe.

The Five Blazes

The second artists to be signed to the fledgling Aristocrat label were The Five Blazes, who were Paul Lindsley “Jelly” Holt, Floyd McDaniel (deceased 1995), William “Shorty” Hill, Ernie Harper (deceased 1984) and Prentice Butler (deceased 1951). Helpfully, the personnel was listed on the label! After leaving the Blazes, Floyd McDaniel had further success with The Ink Spots.

Sherman Hayes


Sherman Hayes | Collection of Robert L. Campbell | tc172

One of the first artists to appear on the Aristocrat label was Sherman Hayes, who led an orchestra in the Chicago area. Hayes began his musical career in 1939 with the Del Courtney Orchestra. He sang and played tenor saxophone. The orchestra’s performances at the Black Hawk Restaurant in Chicago were broadcast on radio station WGN. The Aristocrat sessions were in early 1947 and were the first sessions for the label. Sherman Hayes died in 1969.

The Trashmen


The Trashmen | Fanart | tc173

The Trashmen were a surfing/rock group formed in 1962 by Tony Andreason, Dal Winslow, Steve Wahrer (deceased 1989) and Bob Reed. Best known for their rock record “Surfin’ Bird”, their recording “Ubangi Stomp/Bird “65″” was issued on Argo 5516. The band is still active.

Bunky Green


Bunky Green | Jazz Covers | tc174

Vernice “Bunky” Green was born on April 23, 1935 and is thought to still be living. He is a jazz alto saxophonist who is associated with Sonny Stitt and Charles Mingus. However he is best known as a leading jazz teacher who taught at Chicago State University from 1972–1989, and then the University of North Florida until his retirement in 2011. His recording of “Testifyin’ Time/Tweedle Dee” was issued on Argo 5515.

Ernie Terrell

Boxers Ali and Terrell Facing One Another

Muhammad Ali vs. Ernie Terrell | Corbis | tc175

Ernie Terrell was born on April 4, 1939 and was a champion heavyweight boxer as well as a singer and record producer. Jean Terrell, formerly of The Supremes, is his younger sister and for a time she sang with his group, Ernie Terrell and the Heavyweights, whose record, “Dear Abbie/I Can’t Wait” was issued on Argo 5511. In 1987 Mr Terrell stood unsuccessfully as a candidate in a Chicago local election. Mr Terrell died on 16 December 2014.

Herb Ward


Herb Ward | | tc176

One of the final releases on Argo before it was renamed as Cadet, was Herb Ward’s “Strange change” which became a Northern Soul classic in the UK.

Herbert Eugene McCracken (Herbert Ward) was born in Philadelphia, and died on December 24 2012 of complications of surgery.He attended Germantown High School, and served in the Marine Corps from 1954 to 1962. He was 75. After his recording career, Herb became a tractor-trailer driver for the Philadelphia Streets Department. He retired in 1999. reports:

“He has some very collectible outings in the soul idiom,” said Robert Bosco, writer and music historian. ” ‘Strange Change’ is one famous outing for Argo [a division of Chicago-based Chess Records], which is worth a bundle, and I don’t have.

“He had other notable releases – for Buddy [owned by local recording executive Frank Virtue] called ‘Hands Off She’s Mine,’ ‘You Can’t Cry’ for Phil L.A. of Soul, and for RCA, ‘Honest To Goodness.’

“Truth to tell, he had only a modicum of success back in time, which is why his stuff is so revered and collectible into the Third Millennium.”

David L. Brown, of Funkadelphia Records, said that once in the ’60s when Herb was due to perform at the Uptown Theater, his band didn’t show up.

“He asked Teddy Pendergrass to fill in as the drummer,” Brown said. “It was Teddy’s first performance ever.”

The Capitol Showband


The Capitol Showband | Irish Showbands | tc177

Argo Records believed in variety, with issues from many strands of music and from many sources; in 1965 they issued a single, “Born To Be With You/Far, Far Away” on Argo 5502. The Capitol Showband were an Irish showband who were at the peak of their success, having been chosen to represent Ireland in the Eurovision Song Contest (Ireland’s first). The recording was licenced from Pye Records in the UK. The recording was produced by Phil Coulter. The Showband’s lead singer was Butch Moore and the Showband had already appeared on American television, having toured in 1961. Butch Moore died of a heart attack in April 2001.

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