Here's another guy that doesn't really get the recognition that he deserves, Big Al Downing. He's the piano player in the photo above, in his early band the Poe Cats. This guy did it all, rhythm and blues, rockabilly, country, gospel, and disco. Not to slight his other musical identities, it's his stuff from the rock 'n' roll era that I dig, his early stuff sounding something along the lines of Fats Domino meets Little Richard.
He sang gospel as a kid, taught himself how to play piano, and won a talent contest playing a Fats Domino song. Spotted by rockabilly singer Bobby Poe, he was asked to join his band the Poe Cats (clever, huh?). The band was signed by a small label, released their first 45 and were subsequently hired as Wanda Jackson's back up band ("Let's Have a Party" is them.) Between working with Jackson, the Poe Cats kept recording on their own, including sessions at the New Orleans studio of Cosimo Matassa ("When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again"). He didn't make it onto the charts under his own name until 1965, and that was due in part to it being a duet with Little Esther Phillips. But he plugged along nonetheless, as some sort of jack of all genres, racking up five decades in the business.
~ NOTE: ALL MEDIA IS HOSTED BY THE BLOGS & SITES NAMED BELOW ~Listen:
Big Al Downing and the Poe Cats - Down On the Farm mp3 at Rocky 52 1958
Big Al Downing and the Poe Cats - Oh Babe mp3 at Rocky 52 1958
Big Al Downing and the Poe Cats - When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again mp3 at Rocky 52 1959
Big Al Downing and the Poe Cats - Yes I'm Loving You mp3 at Beware of the Blog 1960
Big Al Downing and the Poe Cats - Georgia Slop mp3 at Beware of the Blog 1965
Wanda Jackson - Let's Have a Party mp3 at Fonsi's Velt (?) 1965
Little Esther Phillips and Big Al Downing - You Never Miss Your Water (Till The Well Runs Dry) (streaming) at YouTube 1963
Big Al Downing at Wikipedia