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A masterful songwriter whose touching blues ballad "Please Send Me Someone to Love," a multi-layered universal lament, was a number one R&B hit in 1950,
had the world by the tail until a horrific 1952 auto wreck left him facially disfigured. That didn't stop the poet laureate of the blues from writing in a prolific fashion, though. As
' favorite scribe during the '60s, he handed the Genius such gems as "Hit the Road Jack" and "At the Club."
Like so many of his postwar L.A. contemporaries,
got his musical start in Texas but moved to the coast during the war. Surmising that
might like to perform a tune he'd penned called "Two Years of Torture,"
targeted Supreme Records as a possible buyer for his song. But the bosses at Supreme liked his own gentle reading so much that they insisted he wax it himself in 1947 with an all-star band that included saxophonist
, and pianist
's Specialty logo signed
in 1950 and he scored a solid string of R&B smashes over the next couple of years. "Please Send Me Someone to Love" and its equally potent flip "Strange Things Happening" were followed in the charts by "Lost Love," "What a Fool I Was," "Prayin' for Your Return," "Cry Baby," and "Big Question," cementing
's reputation as a blues balladeer of the highest order.
handled sax duties on most of
's Specialty sides as well.
's lyrics were usually as insightfully downbeat as his tempos; he was a true master at expressing his innermost feelings, laced with vulnerability and pathos (his "Life Is Suicide" and "The River's Invitation" are two prime examples).
Even though his touring was drastically curtailed after the accident,
hung in there as a Specialty artist through 1954, switching to Chess in 1955-1956 and Imperial in 1959.
proved thankful enough for
's songwriting genius to sign him to his Tangerine logo in 1962; over the next five years, the singer waxed a series of inexorably classy outings, many with
's band (notably "My Jug and I" in 1964 and "Give Me Time to Explain" the next year). It's a rare veteran blues artist indeed who hasn't taken a whack at one or more
himself persisted into the '70s, scoring minor chart items for RCA and Atlantic while performing on a limited basis until his 1984 death.
Bill Dahl, Rovi
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More Percy Mayfield
The Essential Blue Archive: My Blues
Blues Laureate: The RCA Years
Live in San Francisco
His Tangerine and Atlantic Sides
Please Send Me Someone to Love
For Collectors Only
Two Years of Torture
Percy Mayfield Live
Poet of the Blues
Hit the Road Again
Blues and Then Some
Weakness Is a Thing Called Man
The Best of Percy Mayfield
Percy Mayfield Sings Percy Mayfield
Walking on a Tightrope
My Jug and I
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