On the page facing chapter one of Beale Black & Blue is a 1973 photo of Nat D. Williams — Memphis’s first black radio announcer — standing in front of rubble that was once the Palace theater. The photo sums up the sense of utter despondence in the community over the city’s urban renewal ravages on Beale Street. Not only were buildings gone, but so was the sense of place and of pride. The first, failed efforts at redeveloping Beale gave every reason to believe it was gone forever. The key to successful redevelopment of the storied street, it turned out, was envisioning a new incarnation with amenities, attractions, and connections to its proud past. Performa Entertainment’s John Elkington did just that, and one of his early ideas in 1986 was a Beale Street Brass Note Walk of Fame, with tangible embodiments of the many talented people who had put Memphis music and Beale Street on the world map. In 2009, new efforts to formalize the brass note project brought energy and excitement to the table, with a newly formed committee and nomination and selection process. The notes are costly to cast, engrave, and install — approximately $1,700 per note. But the talent, tenacity, and brilliance each one commemorates shines into the world with a legendary gift that is priceless. 1. Peter Guralnick (1943– ) Prolific music writer and author who chronicled bands and musicians and their genres. 2. Ernest Withers (1922–2007) Photographer who captured iconic images of the Civil Rights Movement and legendary people of the time, leaving behind a rich legacy in film. 3. Alberta Hunter (1895–1984) Singer-songwriter who performed in clubs and on stage across the globe, writing the critically acclaimed “Downhearted Blues.” 4. Elvis Presley (1935–1977) World-renowned musical phenom who rose from abject poverty to become the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. His former home, Graceland, is the second most visited home in the nation. 5. George Klein (1936– ) Radio personality, named Number One Disc Jockey, and Elvis’s classmate who now hosts an Elvis-themed program on satellite radio. 6. Jerry Schilling (1942– ) Author, former member of Elvis’s “Memphis Mafia,” and music industry veteran, managing The Beach Boys and Jerry Lee Lewis. 7. Lillie Mae Glover (1906–1985) Singer known as “Baby Ma Rainey,” a fixture on Beale Street who sang locally and with the traveling Memphis Blues Caravan until her death. 8. Robert Johnson (1911–1938) Acclaimed musician who, legend has it, sold his soul to the devil in exchange for his amazing talent. The cause of his early death is unknown. 9. Clyde Hopkins (1927– ) W. C. Handy’s Orchestra player who later started his own band before buying a North Memphis club that kept a house band of notable musicians. 10. Riley B.“B.B.” King (1925– ) Beale Street Blues Boy whose guitar, Lucille, is equally legendary. This GRAMMY Award winner will continue to perform until “the thrill is gone.” 11. Jerry Wexler (1917– ) Editor, writer, and reporter for Billboard Magazine, this Hall of Famer coined the phrase “rhythm and blues” and works in the industry. 12. Justin Timberlake (1981– ) Singer-actor who formed the boy band *NSYNC, won GRAMMY awards, and collaborated with artists from Madonna to The Black Eyed Peas. 13. Pete Pedersen (1925–2002) One of the world’s finest harmonica players who wrote, arranged, and recorded thousands of classic jingles, songs, and scores. 14. Ruby Wilson (1948– ) The Queen of Beale Street, who has thrilled audiences with her raw and lively form of vintage blues for decades. 15. Harry Godwin (1907–1986) All-around music man who grew up among jazz greats and loved music history, collecting stories and memorabilia and taping interviews. 16. Rev.W. Herbert Brewster (1897–1987) Gospel songwriter who wrote more than 200 compositions, including two that credited him with the first million-selling black gospel records. 17. Booker T.“Bukka”White (1909–1977) A talented guitarist who first recorded for Victor Records in 1930 and gave his younger cousin B.B. King his first guitar. 18. Frank Stokes (1888–1955) Guitarist who toured with the Doc Watts Medicine Show in 1920, then played Beale Street with Dan Sane as the Beale Street Sheiks. 19. The Memphis Horns Famous for working with Stax Records, Wayne Jackson and Andrew Love have backed and recorded with many legendary music talents. 20. The Staple Singers Cleotha, Pervis, Yvonne, and Mavis recorded gospel-folk music for various labels and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 21. Herman Green (1930– ) Saxophonist who played with Miles Davis, The Modern Jazz Quartet, Lionel Hampton, and now FreeWorld, a longtime Beale Street fixture. 22. Booker T. Laury (1914–1995) Accomplished keyboard player who, despite losing a thumb in a machine accident, enjoyed a quiet but noteworthy music career. 23. James Cotton (1935– ) Harmonica player who, orphaned in his early teens, went from working Mississippi cotton fields to the GRAMMY Awards stage. 24. Jerry Lee Lewis (1935– ) Pianist as well-known for his energetic keyboard performances as for his masterful playing during a legendary, colorful career. 25. Albert King (1923–1992) Left-handed guitarist who flipped his guitars upside down to play. He signed with Stax, then teamed with The Bar-Kays and The Movement. 26. Don McMinn (1942– ) Instrumental in the rebirth of Beale Street by fronting the house band at Rum Boogie Cafe for nine years with his blend of Delta blues and R&B. 27. Walter E.“Furry” Lewis (1893–1981) Guitarist/songwriter who, despite losing a leg in an railroad accident, played with many noted performers, opening twice for The Rolling Stones. 28. Memphis Minnie (1897–1973) Lizzie “Kid” Douglas ran away from home to play at today’s W.C. Handy Park on Beale, followed by playing circus shows and hundreds of recordings. 29. Carla Thomas (1942– ) Teen-Town Singer for WDIA, whose most famous single, “Gee Whiz,” led to five more albums and the prestigious Pioneer Award in 1993. 30. Hank Crawford (1934–2009) Saxophonist, songwriter and music major who joined Ray Charles’s band and spent time as an arranger, soloist, and composer. 31. Hi Rhythm Section The house band for Willie Mitchell’s Hi Records label in the 1970s that backed many successful soul albums by a series of renowned artists. 32. Mose Vinson (1917–2002) Rollicking, barrel house–style piano player who accompanied artists at Sun Studio and performed at the Center for Southern Folklore. 33. Mud Boy & The Neutrons One of the area’s most noted alternative rock bands in the early ’70s that released three albums, preferring to play locally rather than tour. 34. Otis Redding (1941–1967) Soulful singing legend who helped shaped the black music scene. The King of Soul died in a plane crash with many members of The Bar-Kays. 35. W.C. Handy (1873–1958) Bandleader, trumpeter, and Father of the Blues credited with bringing this rural music form to the masses and writing the first blues ballad in history. 36. Isaac Hayes (1942–2008) Singer-songwriter and creative force behind Stax. Black Moses is noted for a string of Top 20 albums and his Oscar-winning hit, “Theme from Shaft.” 37. Ray Glover (1954 – ) Baritone jazz singer who performed with Memphis Slim, Rufus Thomas, and others. Today, his smooth voice is heard in cabaret settings. 38. Johnny Cash (1932–2003) * The Man in Black was a country music phenom who performed at the Grand Ole Opry and made chart-making hits such as “I Walk the Line.” 39. Sam Phillips (1923–2003) * Sun Studio and Sun Records founder who discovered Elvis and cultivated a new style of music by blending the white and black sound. 40. Lucie Campbell (1885–1962) School teacher and organizer of the “Music Club” on Beale Street that later performed as a 1,000- voice choir at the National Baptist Convention. 41. The Blues Brothers The 1976 Saturday Night Live skit that used music from Memphis, then assembled a band with Memphis roots for the subsequent film. 42. Cordell Jackson (1923–2004) Versatile musician most noted for her talent on the electric guitar. The Rockabilly Granny later became a national sensation. 43. Lamar Alexander (1940– ) Former Tennessee governor, current senator, and a classically trained pianist who twice performed at the Memphis in May Sunset Symphony. 44. Onzie Horne Sr. (1924–1973) Music arranger and bandleader with the versatility to lead high school groups, as well as play with stars such as Lionel Hampton and Ma Rainey II. 45. Al Green (1946– ) GRAMMY-winning gospel and soul singer who had a string of hits with Hi Records before turning his focus to ministry in 1976. 46. Little Milton (1934–2005) Recording artist who made “The Blues is Alright” a national anthem for blues fans around the world. Other hits became American classics. 47. John “Memphis Slim” Chatman (1915–1988) Blues pianist, singer, and composer who led a series of bands and introduced blues in unexpected places — including Europe. 48. O’Landa Draper (1963–1998) Gospel songwriter and singer who, at Memphis State University, formed The Associates choir. 49. Rufus Thomas (1917–2001) The World’s Oldest Teenager, a spirited performer who was a radio host, Rabbit Foot Minstrel, Palace emcee, and recording artist. 50. Sam & Dave Sam Hicks and Dave Prater teamed with songwriters Isaac Hayes and David Porter to produce “Hold On, I’m Comin’,” the No. 1 song of 1966. 51. Willie Mitchell (1928–2010) Bandleader and music producer credited with developing the “Memphis Sound” at Hi Records. “Poppa” Mitchell continued recording at his Royal Recording Studios until his death. 52. Rev. James Smith (Unknown) The first non-musical personality inducted led the selection process for a successful Beale Street redevelopment team to revive the dead street. 53. Rudy Williams (1941– ) A music ambassador and fixture on Beale Street with his solo trumpet playing outside King’s Palace or leading processions of all types. 54. Newborn Family In the mid 1940s, the talented Newborn Orchestra included father Finas on drums, son Phineas on piano, and son Calvin on guitar. 55. Little Jimmy King (1968–2002) Accomplished Manuel Gales grew up as a lefthanded guitar player, renaming himself after his guitar heroes, Jimi Hendrix and Albert King. 56. Charlie Musselwhite (1944– ) Harmonica virtuoso who released more than 20 albums, won 18 W.C. Handy Awards, and received several Lifetime Achievement Awards. 57. Stax Records (1957–1975) Jim Stewart and sister Estelle Axton’s legendary, star-studded studio reopened in 2003 as the Stax Museum of American Soul Music. 58. Bob Kelly (1946–1998) Music promoter who founded Mid-South Concerts and brought great shows and big-name artists to Memphis for 25 years. 59. Three 6 Mafia Memphis-born rap group that won an Academy Award in 2005 for “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” in the locally filmed movie Hustle & Flow. 60. Maurice Hulbert Jr. (1916–1996) “Hot Rod” grew up on Beale Street and launched the Sepia Swing Club on WDIA, which marked the beginning of his disc jockey career. 61. Nat D.Williams (1907–1983) Memphis’s first black radio announcer began at WDIA in 1948. He co-founded the Cotton Makers Jubilee and launched “Amateur Night” at the Palace theater on Beale. 62. James Govan & Boogie Blues (1949– ) Guitar player who performs with the Boogie Blues Band at Beale’s Rum Boogie Cafe. 63. Thomas “Silky” Sullivan (1942– ) Beale Street club owner with beer-drinking goats, BBQ ambassador, and full-time character who brings Irish/Southern fun to Memphis. 64. Bobby “Blue” Bland (1930– ) GRAMMY Award singer who formed the Beale Streeters with B.B. King and Johnny Ace and enjoyed a lifetime of career hits. 65. Beale Street Flippers Entertainment group that tumbled onto the scene with Rarecas Bonds in 1988. After he began receiving tips, he became a mainstay. 66. Tigrett Family Patriarch John was a successful entrepreneur. His widow, Pat Kerr, founded The Blues Ball. Son Isaac founded the Hard Rock Cafe and House of Blues. 67. The Bar-Kays Renowned band caught the attention of Stax Records in 1967. After serving as a backup band, they released their own hit, “Soul Finger.” 68. David Porter (1941– ) Stax house composer who also released singles for Stax and other labels and was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2005. 69. Steve Cropper (1941– ) Rock and Roll Hall of Famer who played with Booker T. & the Mgs, co-wrote singles, and played on Ringo Starr’s 1973 album. 70. Ardent Studios (1958– ) High school buddies John Fry, John King, and Fred Smith built the equipment and picked a name to encompass their passion and spirit: Ardent. 71. Joyce Cobb (1945– ) One of the region’s most versatile vocalists has released dozens of songs and is the only woman to have had her own club on Beale Street. 72. Rev. Gatemouth Moore (1913–2004) Noted for his series of blues compositions, Moore became a minister and left his love of blues to concentrate on gospel music. 73. Preston Shannon (1947– ) One of the area’s busiest musicians, the King of Beale Street is a soul and blues singer/guitarist With hoarse, gritty vocals and brassy arrangements. 74. Cato & Polly Walker Family Cato Walker Jr. Drove B.B. King’s tour bus for 25 years; Polly received the W.C. Handy Heritage Award; and Cato Walker III worked in King’s band as a sax player and music director. 75. Jeremiah Buckley (1922–2003) The Irish Admiral was an enthusiastic ambassador for Beale Street who brought in dignitaries and hosted events. 76. Corey Osborn (1985–2008) Guitar prodigy who, at age 15, entered the Memphis International Blues Competition and the world of performing on Beale Street. 77. Jimmie Lunceford (1902–1947) Lunceford led big bands with showmanship and musicianship comparable to those of Count Basie and Duke Ellington, later organizing a school band that turned professional. 78. Will Shade & the Memphis Jug Band (1898–1966) Band that recorded more than 100 songs using a variety of instruments that included Shade’s “bullfiddle” made from a washtub, broom handle, and string. 79. Dewey Phillips (1926–1968) “Daddy-O” was a pioneer in the art of discjockeying with his hillbilly persona. He played many Stax artists — including a young Elvis Presley’s debut record in 1954. 80. Johnny Robertson (1955–2003) Restaurateur who had a tremendous impact on the early growth of Beale Street clubs and restaurants. Opened Alfred’s in 1986, operating the club until his death. 81. Kevin Paige (1966– ) Musician with Top 40 hits who began playing at Beale Street’s Club Handy and then at Alfred’s, where he has performed weekly for 20 years. 82. Fred Ford and Honeymoon Garner Trio ** Saxophonist Ford, organist Robert “Honeymoon” Garner, and percussionist Bill Tyus served as the Peabody Hotel’s house jazz trio for many years. 83. R.L. Burnside (1926–2006) ** A Mississippi sharecropper who spent the ’70s and ’80s with the family band Sound Machine and was featured in a 1990s documentary based on the book Deep Blues. 84. David “Junior” Kimbrough (1930–1998) ** Musician and juke joint proprietor who began playing guitar in the 1950s, developing a unique style of syncopation. 85. Chips Moman (1936– ) ** Musician, producer, writer, and champion of music, with a versatile ability as a songwriter that made hits for scores of big-name artists. 86. Fred McDowell (1904–1972) ** Developed a distinctive style of bottleneck guitar and subsequently recorded and played at many festivals and clubs, influencing many rock musicians. 87. Charles “Skip” Pitts (1947– ) ** Best known for the “wah-wah” guitar intro to “The Theme From Shaft,” he spent 35 years recording and touring with Isaac Hayes and is a music instructor today. 88. Gus Cannon & Cannon’s Jug Stompers (1883–1979) ** After touring on the medicine show circuit, Cannon formed his own jug band. He made several recordings in the 1920s and an album for Stax in 1963. 89. Rosco Gordon (1934–2002) ** Piano player with a unique boogie-woogie style and unusual rhythms and beats who recorded several successful records and enjoyed a diverse musical career. 90. Little Laura Dukes (1907–1992) ** On stage since age five, this petite, 85-pound banjo-ukulele player was a fixture at Blues Alley and a lifelong performer. 91. Otha Turner (1907–2003) ** A member of the family group Rising Star Fife and Drum Corps, he helped keep alive the very old, pre-blues tradition of fife and drums music. * Located in front of Republic Nightclub, formerly Elvis Presley’s restaurant, at 126 Beale. * * Not yet installed.
Published by Downtowner Magazine. View All Articles.
This page can be found at http://bluetoad.com/article/Top+Brass/312498/30975/article.html.