Bull Moose Jackson
|Bull Moose Jackson|
|Birth name||Benjamin Clarence Jackson|
April 22, 1919|
Cleveland, Ohio, United States
|Died||July 31, 1989
Cleveland, Ohio, United States
|Years active||Early 1940s–1989|
Born in Cleveland, Ohio, United States, he played violin as a child, but quickly became drawn to the saxophone and started his first band, The Harlem Hotshots, while he was still in high school. In 1943, he was recruited as a saxophonist by bandleader Lucky Millinder, and the musicians in Millinder's band gave him the nickname "Bull Moose" for his appearance. He began singing when required to stand in for Wynonie Harris at a show in Texas.
Millinder encouraged Jackson to sign a solo contract with Syd Nathan of King Records to play rhythm and blues. The first recorded in his own right was in 1946, with "I Know Who Threw the Whiskey", an answer song to Millinder's "Who Threw the Whiskey in the Well". The following year, his recording of "I Love You, Yes I Do" reputedly became the first R&B single to sell a million copies, holding the #1 spot on the R&B chart for three weeks and crossing over to the pop chart, where it made #24.
He formed his own group, The Buffalo Bearcats, and over the next five years recorded in a wide variety of musical styles, including both romantic crooning and bawdy jump blues. Other big hits in 1948 included the double-sided hit "All My Love Belongs to You" / "I Want a Bowlegged Woman", and his biggest R&B chart hit, "I Can't Go on Without You", which stayed at # 1 on the R&B chart for eight weeks. He also made an appearance in the 1948 film, Boarding House Blues, with Millinder.
Some of Jackson's later risqué material, including "Big Ten Inch Record" and "Nosey Joe" (written by Leiber and Stoller), caused a sensation during live performances, but were too suggestive for the radio and few records of them were sold. However, his band faithfully played "Big Ten Inch Record" at every show.
By the mid-50s, Jackson got tired of touring and retired from music to work for a catering firm in Washington DC, although he occasionally still performed at private parties. In 1961, he re-recorded "I Love You, Yes I Do" with modernized high-fidelity and had a minor hit.
20 years later, The Flashcats, a blues band that performed in western Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia, were regularly featuring a cover of "Big Ten Inch Record" in their setlist, undoubtedly inspired by rock group Aerosmith covering the song on their 1975 album Toys In The Attic. A local DJ reputedly told The Flashcats that he knew Bull Moose Jackson and frontman Carl Grefensette found him catering at Howard University. Grefensette convinced Jackson to perform with them and they quickly became a sensation in the western Pennsylvania area. Jackson then made The Flashcats his official backing band and began a career revival. He also recorded a comeback album, Moosemania!.
During the 1980s, Jackson, now in his 60s, had an extremely successful run performing in the US and internationally. However, he fell ill with lung cancer in 1987 and retired from the touring circuit during the spring of 1988. An old girlfriend of his came back to care for him during his final illness and he passed away in Cleveland on July 31, 1989.
- List of Jump blues musicians
- List of Dirty blues musicians
- List of artists who reached number one on the Billboard R&B chart