Mel London

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Mel London
Birth name Melvin R. London
Born (1932-04-09)April 9, 1932
Mississippi
Died May 16, 1975(1975-05-16) (aged 43)
Chicago
Genres Blues, R&B
Occupation(s) Songwriter, record producer, record label owner
Years active 1950s - 1960s
Labels Chief, Profile, Age
Associated acts Junior Wells, Elmore James, Earl Hooker, Magic Sam, Ricky Allen

Mel London (April 9, 1932 - May 16, 1975) was a songwriter, record producer, and record label owner. He was active in the Chicago blues and R&B scenes in the 1950s and 1960s. London is best known for his compositions for Chicago blues artists Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, Elmore James, and Junior Wells as well as being the record producer and owner of Chief Records (and its Profile Records and Age Records subsidiaries).

In 1954, Mel London wrote the first of several hit songs for the blues and R&B markets. His "Poison Ivy" was recorded by Willie Mabon and reached #7 in the Billboard R&B chart in 1954.[1] In 1955, three hits written by London followed: "Who Will Be Next" by Howlin' Wolf and two by Muddy Waters - "Sugar Sweet" and "Manish Boy."[2] Not content with just songwriting, in 1957 he started his own record label, Chief Records.[3] Chief's first single, the London-penned "Man from the Island," featured London's solo outing as a lead vocalist. Subsequent Chief releases were produced (and sometimes written) by London and featured Chicago blues artists, such as Elmore James, Junior Wells, Magic Sam, Earl Hooker, and A.C. Reed. London's "Little by Little" was a hit for Junior Wells in 1960, reaching #23 in the Billboard R&B chart.[4] London also wrote several R&B songs that were recorded by Chief artists, including "Cut You A-Loose" by Ricky Allen, which reached #20 in 1963.[5]

Chief/Profile/Age experienced financial difficulties in the early 1960s and went out of business in 1964.[6] Later, Mel London was associated with a number of small record labels, including All-Points, Mel/Mel-Lon, Bright Star, and Starville, but none had the impact of his earlier labels.[6] In 1975, London died at age forty-three. During his career, he wrote (or cowrote) forty-three songs[7] and produced about eighty singles by approximately thirty-seven artists.[8]

Partial discography[edit]

Year Title Performer Label Cat. No. Chart #
1954 "Poison Ivy" Willie Mabon Chess 1580 7
1955 "Who Will Be Next" Howlin' Wolf Chess 1593 14
1955 "Manish Boy"[2] Muddy Waters Chess 1602 5
1955 "Sugar Sweet" Muddy Waters Chess 1612 11
1957 "Man from the Island" Mel London Chief 7000
1957 "The 12 Year Old Boy" Elmore James Chief 7001
1957 "Cry for Me" Elmore James Chief 7006
1960 "Will My Man Be Home Tonight" Lillian Offitt Chief 7012
1960 "Messin' with the Kid" Junior Wells Chief 7021
1960 "Little by Little" Junior Wells Profile 4011 23
1960 "Come on in This House" Junior Wells Profile 4011
1963 "Cut You A-Loose" Ricky Allen Age 29118 20

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Whitburn (1988) p. 268.
  2. ^ a b "Manish Boy" cowriters: Bo Diddley and Muddy Waters
  3. ^ Danchin (2001) p. 121.
  4. ^ Whitburn (1988) p. 438.
  5. ^ Whitburn (1988) p. 23.
  6. ^ a b Danchin (2001) p. 122.
  7. ^ "BMI repertoire". Retrieved 2009-09-20. 
  8. ^ Hoppa, Pete (2008). "Chief Records - Discography". Retrieved 2009-09-20. 

References[edit]

  • Whitburn, Joel (1988). Top R&B Singles 1942-1988. Record Research, Inc. ISBN 0-89820-068-7. 
  • Danchin, Sebastian (2001). Earl Hooker: Blues Master. University of Mississippi Press. ISBN 978-1-57806-307-9. 

External links[edit]