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Fri, 04.01.1927

Amos Milburn born

Amos Milburn

*On this date in 1927 Amos Milburn was born. He was an African American blues musician and singer.

Born in Houston, Texas on April Fools Day, he was one of twelve children, six boys and six girls. His father was a builder's laborer. It is believed that young Milburn could play Jingle Bells on at the age of five.  His early influences included Rhythm & Blues legend Louis Jordan along with boogie-woogie musicians Pete Johnson, Meade Lux Lewis & Albert Ammons.

Milburn joined the navy in 1942 by lying about his age and played piano whenever he gained access to a piano while serving his country. After the end of World War 2, Amos returned to Houston and formed a band that played The Club Ebony, The Club Matinee & the Keyhole Club in San Antonio. It was during this time that he met talent agent Lola Anne Cullum. Milburn and Cullum wrote some songs together and Amos signed for Aladdin Records.

The first Aladdin session was held in Los Angeles in September 1946. Tenor saxophonist Maxwell Davis who recorded with Milburn through his entire stay with Aladdin accompanied him. The most successful song at that session was a cover of Will Bradley’s Down The Road Apiece. Other songs he recorded included Chicken Shack Boogie; Roomin' House Boogie; Bad, Bad Whiskey; Let Me Go Home, Whiskey; One Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer; Amos' Boogie; Good, Good Whiskey and, Vicious, Vicious Vodka. Milburn collaborated with fellow pianist / singer Charles Brown on Ace and King Records and went on to record with Motown Records releasing Return of The Blues Boss which consisted of original songs and re-recordings of some of his hits. A very young Stevie Wonder can be heard playing harmonica on Chicken Shack Boogie.

In 1969, while playing at Cincinnati’s Satan's Den, Amos suffered a stroke. In 1970, he suffered more significant stroke which restricting him to a wheelchair. His old friend, Johnny Otis attempted to help Milburn by producing an album with him playing the piano parts. In 1979, his medical issues continued and he had his left leg amputated. Amos Milburn died on January 3, 1980. He was 52.

He influenced Fats Domino, Floyd Dixon and Little Willie Littlefield amongst many others. He played rocking blues, boogie-woogie and ballads with ease. Like many of his peers, he didn't benefit from the rock n roll explosion of the mid fifties but he left a legacy.

References:
Image, Neil Carter

Bill Dahl, Texas Johnny Brown,
Cosimo Matassa Goldmine magazine # 43,
December 1979,

Blues Records 1943 to 1970:
A selective Discography
Vol. 1 A-K by Mike Leadbitter & Neil Slaven.

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