Ivory Joe Hunter

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Ivory Joe Hunter
Background information
Also known asThe Baron of the Boogie
The Happiest Man Alive
Born(1914-10-10)October 10, 1914
Kirbyville, Texas, United States
DiedNovember 8, 1974(1974-11-08) (aged 60)
Memphis, Tennessee, United States
GenresR&B, blues, boogie-woogie, country
InstrumentsPiano, vocals
Years active1933–1974

Ivory Joe Hunter (October 10, 1914 – November 8, 1974)[1] was an American rhythm-and-blues singer, songwriter, and pianist. After a series of hits on the US R&B chart starting in the mid-1940s, he became more widely known for his hit recording "Since I Met You Baby" (1956). He was billed as The Baron of the Boogie, and also known as The Happiest Man Alive. His musical output ranged from R&B to blues, boogie-woogie, and country music, and Hunter made a name in all of those genres. Uniquely, he was honored at both the Monterey Jazz Festival and the Grand Ole Opry.[2]

Early years[edit]

Hunter was born in Kirbyville, Texas. Ivory Joe was his given name, not a nickname nor a stage name.[1] According to Hunter, when he was born his parents thought he "looked just like the baby on the outside of the Castoria Ivory bottle, so they called [him] Ivory."[3]

As a youngster in a large family of musicians, he developed an early interest in music. His father, Dave Hunter, played guitar, and his mother sang gospel. Hunter was a talented pianist by the age of 13, playing in school orchestras.[3]

He graduated high school in 1930 and made his first recording for Alan Lomax and the Library of Congress as a teenager, in 1933.[3][4]

Hunter was the uncle of Rick Stevens, the original lead vocalist for Tower of Power.[5]

Radio and recordings[edit]

In the early 1940s, Hunter had his own radio show in Beaumont, Texas, on KFDM, for which he eventually became program manager. In 1942 he moved to Los Angeles, joining Johnny Moore's Three Blazers in the mid-1940s.[1] He wrote and recorded his first song, "Blues at Sunrise", with the Three Blazers for his own label, Ivory Records, it became a nationwide hit on the R&B chart in 1945.[4][6]

In the late 1940s, Hunter founded Pacific Records.[1] In 1947, he recorded for Four Star Records and King Records. Two years later, he recorded further R&B hits; on "I Quit My Pretty Mama" and "Guess Who" he was backed by members of Duke Ellington's band.[4][7]

After signing with MGM Records, he recorded "I Almost Lost My Mind",[1] which topped the 1950 R&B charts and would later (in the wake of Hunter's success with "Since I Met You Baby") be recorded by Pat Boone, whose version became a number one pop hit.[4] "I Need You So" was a number two R&B hit that same year. With his smooth delivery, Hunter became a popular R&B artist, and he also began to be noticed in the country music community. In April 1951, he made his network TV debut on You Asked for It. He toured widely with a backing band and became known for his large build (he was 6 feet 4 inches tall), his brightly colored stage suits, and his volatile temperament.[8]

By 1954, he had recorded more than 100 songs and moved to Atlantic Records. His first song to cross over to the pop charts was "Since I Met You Baby" (1956). It was to be his only Top 40 pop song, reaching number 12 on the pop chart.[9]

While visiting Memphis, Tennessee, in the spring of 1957, Hunter was invited by Elvis Presley to visit Graceland. The two spent the day together, singing "I Almost Lost My Mind" and other songs together. Hunter commented, "He is very spiritually minded... he showed me every courtesy, and I think he's one of the greatest."[10] Presley recorded several of his songs, including "I Need You So", "My Wish Came True" and "Ain't That Lovin' You, Baby".[4] Later, Presley would record "I Will Be True" and "It's Still Here" in May 1971. Hunter was a prolific songwriter, and some estimate he wrote more than 7,000 songs.[3]

Country comeback[edit]

Hunter's "Empty Arms" and "Yes I Want You" also made the pop charts, and he had a minor hit with "City Lights" in 1959, just before his popularity began to decline. Hunter came back as a country singer in the late 1960s, making regular Grand Ole Opry appearances and recording an album titled I've Always Been Country.[11]

The country singer Sonny James issued a version of "Since I Met You Baby", which topped the country charts in 1969, paving the way for Hunter's album The Return of Ivory Joe Hunter and his appearance at the Monterey Jazz Festival. The album was recorded in Memphis with a band that included Isaac Hayes, Gene "Bowlegs" Miller and Charles Chalmers.[4] Jerry Lee Lewis recorded a cover version of the song in 1969.


Hunter died of complications due to lung cancer in 1974, at the age of 60, in Memphis, Tennessee.[1] His remains were buried in Spring Hill Community Cemetery.[12]


Year Single (A-side, B-side)
Both sides from same album except where indicated
Chart Positions Album
US Pop[13] US
1945 "Blues at Sunrise"
b/w "You Taught Me to Love (But Not to Forget)"
3 Non-album tracks
1946 "Seventh Street Boogie"
b/w "Reconversion Blues" (non-album track)
Ivory Joe Hunter (Sound Record Co.)
"Boogie in the Basement"
b/w "Don't Leave Me"
Non-album tracks
"Ivory Joe's Boogie"
b/w "Gazing"
"We're Gonna Boogie"
b/w "Heavy Hearted Blues" (non-album track)
Ivory Joe Hunter (Sound Record Co.)
"Are You Hep?"
b/w "I Love My Man"
Non-album tracks
1947 "Pretty Mama Blues"
b/w "I Don't Want No Cheese No More" (non-album track)
1 Ivory Joe Hunter (Sound Record Co.)
"Blues at Midnight"
b/w "High Cost, Low Pay Blues" (non-album track)
"Mean Woman Blues"
b/w "Jammin' Down in Town" (from Ivory Joe Hunter (Sound Record Co.))
Mean Woman Blues
"San Francisco Blues"
b/w "Don't Be No Fool-Fool"
Non-album tracks
1948 "Don't Fall in Love with Me"
b/w "Siesta with Sonny" (non-album track)
8 Sixteen of His Greatest Hits
"Pretty Mama Blues"
b/w "Are You Hep?" (non-album track)
Ivory Joe Hunter (Sound Record Co.)
"What Did You Do to Me"
b/w "The Code Song (I Love You)" (from Sixteen of His Greatest Hits)
9 Non-album track
"Blues at Midnight"
b/w "I Love My Man" (non-album track)
Ivory Joe Hunter (Sound Record Co.)
"I Like It"
b/w "No Money, No Luck Blues"
14 Sixteen of His Greatest Hits
1949 "Waiting in Vain"
b/w "That's the Gal for Me" (non-album track)
"Blues at Midnight"
b/w "I Love My Man"
10 Ivory Joe Hunter (Sound Record Co.)
"Guess Who" / 2 Sixteen of His Greatest Hits
"Landlord Blues" 6 Non-album track
"Jealous Heart"
b/w "All States Boogie" (non-album track)
2 Sixteen of His Greatest Hits
"7th Street Boogie"
b/w "Please Come Back Home Baby"
Ivory Joe Hunter (Sound Record Co.)
1950 "I Almost Lost My Mind"
b/w "If I Give You My Love" (non-album track)
1 I Get That Lonesome Feeling
"I Quit My Pretty Mama"
b/w "It's You Just You"
4 Sixteen of His Greatest Hits
"Don't Leave Me"
B-side by Cecil Gant Trio: "Coming Round the Mountain"
Non-album tracks
"S. P. Blues"
b/w "Why Fool Yourself" (from I Need You So)
"Let Me Dream"
b/w "Gimme a Pound o' Ground Round"
"I Need You So"
b/w "Leave Her Alone" (non-album track)
1 I Get That Lonesome Feeling
"Please Don't Cry Anymore"
b/w "I Got Your Water On" (non-album track)
Sixteen of His Greatest Hits
"She's a Killer"
B-side by Nick Esposito, "Empty Room Blues"
Non-album tracks
"Changing Blues"
b/w "I Have No Reason to Complain"
Sixteen of His Greatest Hits
"Old Man's Boogie"
b/w "Living a Lie"
Non-album tracks
"It's a Sin"
b/w "Don't You Believe Her"
"Lying Woman"
b/w "Too Late"
Sixteen of His Greatest Hits
"Sorta Need You"
b/w "You Thrill Me" (from I Need You So)
Non-album track
1951 "False Friend Blues"
b/w "Send Me, Pretty Mama" (non-album track)
Sixteen of His Greatest Hits
"I Found My Baby"
b/w "I Ain't Got No Gal No More" (non-album track)
I Get That Lonesome Feeling
"Grieving Blues"
b/w "Big Wig" (from Ivory Joe Hunter, Sound Record Co.)
Non-album tracks
"Is My Pop There?"
b/w "Time Has Passed"
"When I Lost You"
b/w "You Lied" (non-album track)
I Get That Lonesome Feeling
"I'm Yours Until Eternity"
b/w "Wrong Woman Blues" (from I Need You So)
Non-album track
"Boogie in the Rain"
b/w "I Shouldn't Love You"
Ivory Joe Hunter (Sound Record Co.)
1952 "Blue Moon"
b/w "U Name It" (non-album track)
I Get That Lonesome Feeling
"I Thought I Had Loved (Until I Met You)"
b/w "I Get That Lonesome Feeling"
1955 "It May Sound Silly"
b/w "I Got to Learn to Do the Mambo"
14 Ivory Joe Hunter (Atlantic)
"Heaven Came Down to Earth"
b/w "I Want Somebody"
1956 "A Tear Fell"
b/w "I Need You by My Side"
"That's Why I Dream"
b/w "You Mean Everything to Me"
"Since I Met You Baby"
b/w "You Can't Stop This Rocking and Rolling"
12 1
1957 "Empty Arms" / 43 2 Non-album tracks
"Love's a Hurting Game" 7
"She's Gone"
b/w "Everytime I Hear That Song"
"If Only You Were Here with Me"
b/w "All About the Blues"
1958 "You're on My Mind"
b/w "Baby Baby Count on Me"
"Shooty Booty"
b/w "I'm So Glad I Found You"
"Yes I Want You"
b/w "You Flip Me Baby"
94 13
1959 "City Lights"
b/w "Stolen Moments"
92 This Is Ivory Joe Hunter
"Old Fashioned Love"
b/w "A Cottage for Sale"
"I Just Want to Love You"
b/w "Now I Don't Worry No More"
Non-album tracks
"Welcome Home Baby"
b/w "I Love You So Much"
This Is Ivory Joe Hunter
"My Search Was Ended"
b/w "Did You Mean It"
"Guess Who"
b/w "Don't Fall in Love With Me"
Sixteen of His Greatest Hits
1960 "Let Them Say"
b/w "It Must Be Love"
Non-album tracks
"It's Love, It's Love, It's Love"
b/w "You Satisfy Me Baby"
1961 "Because I Love You"
b/w "I'm Hooked"
"You Better Believe It, Baby
b/w "May the Best Man Win"
1962 "The Life I Live"
b/w "Great Big Heart Full of Love"
"You Only Want Me When You Need Me"
b/w "Somebody's Stealing My Love"
1963 "My Arms Are Waiting"
b/w "Congratulations"
"There's No Forgetting You"
b/w "My Lover's Prayer"
1964 "Can't Explain How It Happened"
b/w "This Kind of Woman"
"I Need a Woman"
b/w "I've Been Searching"
1966 "Every Little Bit Helped Me"
b/w "I Can Make You Happy"
"Heart! Don't Love Her Anymore"
b/w "I've Asked You for the Last Time"
1967 "Don't You Believe Him"
b/w "What's the Matter Baby"
"Did She Ask About Me"
b/w "From the First Time We Met"
1968 "Ivory Tower"
b/w "I'll Give You All Night to Stop"
1969 "I Built a Wall Around Me"
b/w "Until the Day I Die"
"Baby Me Baby"
b/w "Straighten Up Baby"
1971 "Heartbreak and Misery"
b/w "We All Like That Groovy Feeling"
The Return of Ivory Joe Hunter


  • Ivory Joe Hunter, Atlantic (1957)
  • Mean Woman Blues, Pickwick (Grand Prix Series)


  1. ^ a b c d e f Dahl, Bill. "Ivory Joe Hunter". AllMusic. Retrieved November 27, 2011.
  2. ^ Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues: From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books. p. 121. ISBN 1-85868-255-X.
  3. ^ a b c d Goldmine1. "The Happiest Man Alive: Ivory Joe Hunter". Goldmine Magazine: Record Collector & Music Memorabilia. Retrieved February 2, 2022.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Williamson, Nigel (2007). The Rough Guide to the Blues. London: Rough Guides. p. 205. ISBN 978-1-84353-519-5.
  5. ^ "Rick Stevens Official Website Biography". Rickstevensmusic.com. July 20, 2012. Archived from the original on May 28, 2013. Retrieved March 22, 2013.
  6. ^ J.C. Marion. "JammUpp 23: "Let Me Dream: Ivory Joe Hunter"". Home.earthlink.net. Archived from the original on June 22, 2016. Retrieved May 2, 2006.
  7. ^ "Ivory Joe Hunter". Tsimon.com. April 20, 2000. Retrieved March 22, 2013.
  8. ^ Evans, Joe (2008). Follow Your Heart: Moving with the Giants of Jazz, Swing, and Rhythm and Blues. University of Illinois Press. pp. 83–87. ISBN 978-0-252-03303-2.
  9. ^ "Ivory Joe Hunter: Charts and Awards: Billboard Singles". AllMusic.
  10. ^ Werner, Craig Hansen (October 24, 2006). A Change is Gonna Come: Music, Race & the Soul of America. University of Michigan Press. ISBN 0472031473 – via Google Books.
  11. ^ "East Texas Celebrities". Texasescapes.com. June 23, 2007. Retrieved March 22, 2013.
  12. ^ "Ivory Joe Hunter's grave will receive state historical marker". Beaumont Enterprise. April 27, 2010. Retrieved November 1, 2020.
  13. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2003). Top Pop Singles 1955–2002. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research. p. 327. ISBN 0-89820-155-1.
  14. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1996). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942–1995. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research. p. 202.


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