Tuff Green

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Richard “Tuff” Green was a jazz and R&B bassist and bandleader.[1]

After studying with Jimmie Lunceford in Memphis, in the late 1940s he led the Rocketeers, which featured, among others, Phineas Newborn, Sr., Ben Branch, Leonard “Doughbelly” Campbell, Willie Mitchell, Hank Crawford,[2] saxophonist Irvin Reason, trumpeter Gene "Bowlegs" Miller, trombonist Walter "Tang" Smith, saxophonist James Luper, and pianist Harry Gibson[3][4]

As an established bandleader in Memphis, in 1952 he later put together the pickup band for BB King’s first hit, “Three O’Clock Blues”,[5] Ben Branch and Phineas Newborn, Sr., along with Newborn's sons, Phineas Jr. and Calvin, together with Ben Branch’s brother Thomas, and Sammie Jett[6] and which was recorded in Green’s sitting room.[7] A previous version of the song had been recorded in September 1951 with King backed by Richard Sanders and Adolph "Billy" Duncan on tenor saxes, Johnny Ace, Green, and Earl Forest on drums.[8]

Bobby Bland’s first recording was also made in Green’s sitting room,[2] and featured Green, Johnny Ace, Earl Forest, M.T. (Matthew) Murphy, Little Junior Parker, Ike Turner,[9] and Rosco Gordon,[10] whose "No More Doggin'", also recorded at Green's home, was a #3 R&B hit.[11]

Mose Allison, having heard them in 1947, has credited Tuff Green and His Rocketeers with playing the first “rock and roll”.[12][13]

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