|Birth name||Rosco Gordon|
April 10, 1928|
Memphis, Tennessee, United States
|Died||July 11, 2002
Queens, New York City, New York, United States
Rosco Gordon (April 10, 1928 – July 11, 2002) was an American blues singer and songwriter. He is best known for his 1952 #1 R&B hit single, "Booted", and two #2 singles "No More Doggin'" (1952 RPM 350) and "Just a Little Bit" (1960 Vee-Jay 332).
Born on Florida Street, in Memphis, Tennessee, Gordon was one of the Beale Streeters, a moniker given to a group of musicians who helped develop the style known as Memphis Blues. Gordon used a style of piano playing known as 'The Rosco Rhythm' and made a number of his early recordings for Sam Phillips at Sun Records. This rhythm placed the accent on the off beats, and although other influential R&B pianists such as Professor Longhair (on "Willie Mae" among other songs) recorded in the same off beat style before him, through his influence on the Jamaican pianist, Theophilus Beckford ("Easy Snappin'"), Gordon was cited as the foundation of Jamaican bluebeat and reggae music.
"Booted" (1952) gave his career a sound start, and was followed by "No More Doggin'" the same year. Sam Phillips later sold the master tape of "Booted" to two competing record labels, Chess and RPM, both of whom released it as a single as he had done with some early Howlin' Wolf songs. The RPM release reached #1 on the Billboard R&B record chart. Chess and the Bihari Brothers later settled the conflict with the Biharis getting exclusive rights to Gordon and Chess signing Wolf to an exclusive contract.
In 1960, Gordon released his last charting single "Just a Little Bit", which was both an R&B and pop hit. However there were no further hits despite Gordon's youth, talent and exuberant and oddball personality. In 1962, he gave up the music industry and moved to Queens, New York with his new wife where he purchased a partnership in a laundry business. Following his wife's death in 1984, he returned to performing in the New York area.
In 2002, he was invited by filmmaker Richard Pearce to be featured as part of a documentary film about several blues musicians returning to Memphis for a special tribute to Sam Phillips in conjunction with the May 2002 W. C. Handy Awards. Called The Road To Memphis, the documentary aired on PBS television. Six weeks after filming finished, Gordon died of a heart attack at his apartment in Rego Park, Queens. He was 74 years old. He was interred in the Rosedale Cemetery in Linden, New Jersey.
- "Biography by Bryan Thomas". Allmusic.com. Retrieved June 1, 2009.
- Whitburn, Joel (1988). Top R&B Singles 1942–1988. Record Research, Inc. p. 170. ISBN 0-89820-068-7.
- Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues - From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books Limited. p. 114. ISBN 1-85868-255-X.
- Cohodas, Nadine (2000). Spinning Blues into Gold. St. Martin's Press. p. 64. ISBN 0-312-26133-0.
- Rosco Gordon full biography
- Rosco Gordon discography on Soulful Kinda Music website
- PBS website for The Road to Memphis
- Rosco Gordon overview
- Rosco Gordon interview
- Rosco Gordon biography