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Alexander in 1993, one of the last photos taken before his death
|Birth name||Arthur Alexander|
May 10, 1940|
|Died||June 9, 1993(aged 53)|
|Occupation(s)||Recording artist, singer, songwriter|
|Labels||Judd, Dot, Buddah, Warner, Ace, Elektra, Sound Stage 7|
Arthur Alexander (May 10, 1940 – June 9, 1993) was an American country songwriter and soul singer. Jason Ankeny, music critic for Allmusic, said Alexander was a "country-soul pioneer" and that, though largely unknown, "his music is the stuff of genius, a poignant and deeply intimate body of work on par with the best of his contemporaries." Alexander wrote songs publicized by such stars as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Otis Redding, Tina Turner and Jerry Lee Lewis.
Alexander was born in Sheffield, Alabama. Working with Spar Music in Florence, Alabama, Alexander recorded his first single, "Sally Sue Brown", under the name of June Alexander (short for Junior), which was released in 1960 on Jud Phillips' Judd Records. (Phillips is the brother of music pioneer Sam Phillips).
A year later, Alexander cut "You Better Move On" at a former tobacco warehouse-turned-recording studio in Muscle Shoals. Released on Nashville's Dot Records, the song became a soul/R&B chart hit, and laid the foundation for the modern recording studio FAME. "You Better Move On" is perhaps Alexander's best-known song, covered by the Rolling Stones, the Hollies, George Jones & Johnny Paycheck and Mink DeVille. "Anna (Go to Him)", a U.S. R&B Top Ten Hit, was covered by the Beatles and Humble Pie. The Beatles also did live recordings of "Soldier of Love", which was also performed by Marshall Crenshaw and Pearl Jam, "A Shot of Rhythm and Blues", and "Where Have You Been" recorded live at the Star-Club in Hamburg, 1962. "Set Me Free" (covered by Esther Phillips and Joe Tex) were also major hits and established Alexander as a pioneering arranger of others' tunes, as well as an established songwriter in his own right.
In 1962. Steve Alaimo was the first to record Alexander's "Everyday I Have to Cry", which reached No.46 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. Dusty Springfield also recorded the song for her first U.K. solo E.P., "I Only Want to Be With You", released on 6 March 1964.
In the mid-1960s, Alexander switched to another label, Sound Stage 7, but failed to find commercial success. Although a 1972 album for Warner Brothers was promising, the singer's potential seemed to wither. He secured a pop hit with "Every Day I Have to Cry Some" on Buddah Records in 1975, but the success remained short-lived. The song was also covered by Ike and Tina Turner (produced by Phil Spector), the McCoys, Dusty Springfield, Joe Stampley, C.J. Chenier, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Gentrys and others. The follow-up single "Sharing The Night Together" (written by Muscle Shoals songwriters Ava Aldridge and Eddie Struzick) reached No. 92 on the R&B charts, but earned Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show a Top 10 hit in 1978; the Dr. Hook version was used in the 2012 Family Guy episode "Mr. and Mrs. Stewie".
For many years, Alexander was out of the music business; he was a bus driver for much of this time. In 1990, he was inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame. He began to perform again in 1993 as renewed interest was shown in his small catalogue. His last album Lonely Just Like Me was his first in 21 years. He signed a new recording/publishing contract in May 1993 but suffered a fatal heart attack the following month, three days after performing in Nashville with his new band.
Alexander is the only songwriter whose songs have been covered on studio albums by the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan (who recorded "Sally Sue Brown" on his 1988 LP Down in the Groove). "Go Home Girl" was also recorded by Ry Cooder on his 1979 album Bop Till You Drop.
(USA issues except where noted)
- "Sally Sue Brown/"The Girl That Radiates That Charm" Judd (1960)
- "You Better Move On"/"A Shot of Rhythm and Blues" Dot (1961) London (UK) (1962)
- "Soldier of Love (Lay Down Your Arms)"/"Where Have You Been (All My Life)" Dot (1962) London (UK) (1962)
- "Anna"/"I Hang My Head And Cry" Dot (1962) London (UK) (1963)
- "Go Home Girl"/"You're the Reason" Dot (1962) London (UK) (1963)
- "Dream Girl"/"I Wonder Where You Are Tonight" Tina Knittel (1963)
- "Baby, Baby"/"Pretty Girls Everywhere" Dot (1963)
- "Where Did Sally Go"/"Keep Her Guessing" Dot (1963)
- "Black Night"/"Old John Amos" Dot (1964) London (UK) (1964)
- "Detroit City"/"You Don't Care" Dot (1965)
- "Baby For You"/"The Other Woman (In My Life)" Sound Stage (1966) London (UK) (1966)
- "Show Me The Road"/"Turn Around (And Try Me)" Sound Stage (1966)
- "Love's Where Life Begins"/"Set Me Free" Sound Stage (1968)
- "I Need You Baby"/"Spanish Harlem" Monument (1968)
- "Bye Bye Love"/"Another Place, Another Time" Sound Stage (1968)
- "Cry Like a Baby"/"Glory Road" Sound Stage (1969)
- "I'm Coming Home"/"It Hurts To Want It So Bad" Warner Brothers (1972)
- "Burning Love"/"It Hurts To Want It So Bad" Warner Brothers (1972)
- "Mr John"/"You've Got Me Knockin'" Garry Fink (1972)
- "Lover Please"/"They'll Do It Every Time" Warner Brothers (1973)
- "Every Day I Have to Cry Some"/"Everybody Needs Someone To Love" Buddah (1975) Buddah (UK) (1976)
- "Sharing The Night Together"/"She'll Throw Stones At You" Buddah (1976) Buddah (UK) (1977)
- "Hound Dog Man's Gone Home"/"So Long Baby" Music Mill (1977)
- "Alexander The Great" (1963) London (UK)
- "Arthur Alexander" (1963) London (UK)
- You Better Move On (LP, 1962) Label: Dot & London (UK)
- Arthur Alexander (LP, 1972) Label: Warner Brothers
- Lonely Just Like Me (CD, 1993) Label: Nonesuch/Elektra
- Story Of Rock 'N' Roll (LP, 1977) Label: Ariola (Germany) (Reissue of You Better Move On)
- Arthur Alexander (LP, 1989) Label: Ace (UK)
- You Better Move On (CD, 1994) Label: MCA (UK) (Reissue of LP with 8 bonus tracks)
- You Better Move On (CD, 2014) Label: Hoodoo Records (EU) (Reissue of LP with 14 bonus tracks)
- Rainbow Road: The Warner Bros. Recordings (CD, 1994) Label: Warner Archives (Reissue of self-titled Warner LP above with bonus tracks)
- Lonely Just Like Me: The Final Chapter (CD, 2007) Label: Hacktone (Reissue of CD with bonus tracks)
- Various Artists - Greatest Rhythm And Blues Stars (1965) Label: Guest Star (two tracks by Alexander)
- Carl Perkins - Sing A Song With Me (1979) Label: Koala (four demos by Alexander)
- A Shot Of Rhythm And Soul (1982) Label: Ace (UK)
- Soldier Of Love (1987) Label: Ace (UK)
- The Greatest (1989 & 2006) Label: Ace (UK)
- The Ultimate Arthur Alexander (1993) Label: Razor & Tie
- Jon Tiven's Ego Trip - Blue Guru (1996) Label: Fountainbleu (one over-dubbed demo by Alexander)
- Various Artists - Bill Haney's Atlanta Soul Brotherhood (1998) Label: Kent (UK) (one track by Alexander)
- Various Artists - Bill Haney's Atlanta Soul Brotherhood Vol 2 (1998) Label: Kent (UK) (one track by Alexander)
- The Monument Years (2001) Label: Ace (UK)
Songs written by Alexander
- "Anna (Go To Him)", recorded by Alexander in 1962, covered by the Beatles
- "Every Day I Have to Cry Some", covered by Ike and Tina Turner, produced by Phil Spector
- "Go Home Girl", recorded by Alexander in 1962
- "In the Middle of it All", recorded by Alexander in 1987
- "You Better Move On", recorded by Alexander in 1961, covered by the Hollies, the Rolling Stones, Billy "Crash" Craddock
- Ankeny, Jason. "Arthur Alexander Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 2007-03-18.
- "The Forgotten Songwriter Who Inspired the Beatles". Slate.com. Retrieved 2013-03-12.
- Ward, Ed (2016). The History of Rock & Roll, volume one, 1920–1963. New York: Flatiron Books. p. 289. ISBN 978-1-250-07116-3.
- Richie Unterberger. "Anna (Go to Him) - Arthur Alexander | Listen, Appearances, Song Review". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-12-07.
- "Every Day I Have to Cry Some - Arthur Alexander | Listen, Appearances, Song Review". AllMusic. 1993-06-15. Retrieved 2013-12-07.
- "Go Home Girl - Arthur Alexander | Listen, Appearances, Song Review". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-12-07.
- "In the Middle of It All - Arthur Alexander | Listen, Appearances, Song Review". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-12-07.
- Richard Younger; Get a Shot of Rhythm and Blues: The Arthur Alexander Story The University of Alabama Press (2000) ISBN 0-8173-1023-1