Gene "Mighty Flea" Conners , Charivari Bar, Wattenscheid, Germany, 2008
December 28, 1930|
Birmingham, Alabama, U.S.
|Died||June 10, 2010|
Eugene Conners (December 28, 1930 – June 10, 2010), known as Gene Conners, was an American trombonist and singer. He was known as the "Mighty Flea".
Conners was born in Birmingham, Alabama and grew up in New Orleans, and may have played with Papa Celestin when he was eleven years old. As a teenager he played at jazz funerals and with territory bands, and served in the Navy during the Korean War. Following this he played with Johnny Otis; his nickname was given to him by Bardu Ali while he was in Otis's band.
Conners played with his own ensemble in Long Beach, California in the 1950s, and subsequently played with Ray Charles and Dinah Washington. In 1969 he returned to work with Otis, playing with him at the Monterey Jazz Festival and appearing in the film Play Misty for Me in 1971. He continued touring the world with Otis through 1974; concomitantly he played in Europe in 1973 with Illinois Jacquet and Jo Jones. In 1975 he appeared at the Montreux Jazz Festival.
He moved to Europe, living in France, Denmark, and Germany, playing in swing jazz, Dixieland, and blues groups. He collaborated with Catalan ensemble La Locomotora Negra in 1983. In this period, too, he recorded in Germany two R&B-albums with the English guitarist and songwriter John C. Marshall.
During the 1990s and early 2000s he once again played with his own ensemble based in Germany, which toured northern, western, and southern Europe. In 2008 he was inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame. He died June 10, 2010.
- Let The Good Times Roll (Big Bear, 1973)
- Coming Home (1976)
- Sanctified (1981)
- Gene Mighty Flea Conners Sings and Plays R&B (1984)
- Jumping the Blues (1995)
- Howard Rye, "Gene Conners". Grove Jazz online.