Joe Liggins (July 9, 1915 – July 26, 1987) was an American R&B, jazz and blues pianist, who was the frontman in the 1940s and 1950s with the band, Joe Liggins and his Honeydrippers. He was older brother of R&B performer Jimmy Liggins.
His band was often a staple on the US Billboard R&B chart in those years, with their biggest hit being "The Honeydripper", released in 1945. That single topped the R&B chart, then called the race chart, for 18 weeks. More than 60 years later, "The Honeydripper" remains tied with Louis Jordan's "Choo Choo Ch'Boogie" for the longest-ever stay at the top of that chart. It logged a reported two million sales.
Liggins was born in Guthrie, Oklahoma, and moved to San Diego, California in 1932. He moved to Los Angeles in 1939, where he played with Sammy Franklin's California Rhythm Rascals and other groups. When Franklin turned down a chance to record Liggins' song "The Honeydripper", Liggins decided to start his own band. The original Joe Liggins and His Honeydrippers recordings were issued on the Exclusive Records imprint of brothers Leon and Otis Rene. Joe Liggins' Honeydrippers was formed in the basement of the Los Angeles home of the saxophonist Little Willie Jackson, who co-founded the group and who, at the time of his death in 2000, was the last original surviving member of the Honeydrippers.
In March 1954, the band took part in a benefit show held at the Club 5-4 in Los Angeles for the wife of Stan Getz.
Joe signed with Specialty Records in 1950, where he gained more hits, including "Rag Mop", "Boom-Chick-A-Boogie", "Pink Champagne", and "Little Joe's Boogie". His songs were mostly a blend of jump blues and basic R&B. With Roy Milton, he was an architect of the small-band jump blues of the first post-war decade. Liggins often toured with such acts as Jimmy Witherspoon, Amos Milburn and the jump blues shouter H-Bomb Ferguson. His 1950 releases, "Pink Champagne" and "I've Got A Right To Cry," both sold over one million copies and were awarded gold discs.
Members of "The Honeydrippers" band
- Little Willie Jackson - alto and baritone saxophone
- James Jackson, Jr. - tenor saxophone
- Joe Liggins - piano, vocal
- Frank Pasley - guitar
- Eddie Davis - bass
- Preston "Peppy" Prince - drums and percussion
guest session musicians:
- Joe Darensbourg - clarinet
- Johnny Moore - guitar
- Gene Phillips - guitar
- Red Callender - bass
- "Mo" from Eddie Heywood's band [could this be William "Keg" Purnell?] - drums
Original 10" shellac (78rpm) and 7" vinyl (45rpm) releases
- 125 The Honeydripper, Part 1 / The Honeydripper, Part 2 -1944
- 207 The Honeydripper, Part 1 [re-recording] / The Honeydripper, Part 2 [re-recording] -1945
- 208 Left A Good Deal In Mobile (by Herb Jeffries w/Joe Liggins & His Honeydrippers) / Here's Hopin' (by Herb Jeffries Orchestra w/Homer Hall Chorus)
- 210 Got A Right To Cry / Blue Moods (instrumental)
- 211 Got Your Love In My Heart (by Herb Jeffries w/Joe Liggins & His Honeydrippers) / Tisco Tisco (by Pat Kay w/Herb Jeffries Orchestra)
- 212 I KNOW MY LOVE IS TRUE / HARLEMESQUE (instrumental)
- 213 LOVERS LAMENT / MISS BETTY'S BLUES
- 216 CARAVAN (instrumental) / YOU AIN'T GOIN' TO HEAVEN NO HOW
- 219 SUGAR LUMP / BODDLE-DO-DA-DEET
- 231 BREAKING MY HEART / TANYA (instrumental)
- 232 DRIPPERS' BOOGIE, Part 1 / DRIPPERS' BOOGIE, Part 2
- 236 T.W.A. / LAST NIGHT BLUES
- 238 SOMEDAY SWEETHEART / YVETTE (instrumental)
- 242 SOME OF THESE DAYS / THE BLUES
- 244 THE BLUES / BLOW MR. JACKSON (instrumental)
- 250 DOWN HOME BLUES (instrumental) / TEN TOES
- 252 THINK OF ME / LITTLE WILLIE (instrumental)
- 256 SUGAR / YOU'LL MISS ME SURE'S YOU'RE BORN
- 258 LIFE DON'T MEAN A THING TO ME / SIBONEY
- 262 WORRIED (instrumental) / HOW COME
- 267 GROOVY GROOVE (instrumental) / APPLE OF MY EYE
- 271 DRIPPERS' BLUES (instrumental) / SWEET GEORGIA BROWN
- 41X ROLL 'EM (instrumental) / SWEET AND LOVELY (instrumental)
- 49X SPOOKS HOLIDAY (instrumental) / THE DARKTOWN STRUTTERS' BALL
- 61X DON'T STOP LOVING ME / KEY JAM (instrumental)
- 68X Got A Right To Cry [reissue] / Blue Moods (instrumental) [reissue]
- 79X END OF A KISS (instrumental) / HE KNOWS HOW TO KNOCK ME OUT (w/vocal by "Ju-lee" [could this be Julia Lee?])
- 84X THREE O'CLOCK JUMP, Part 1 (instrumental) / THREE O'CLOCK JUMP, Part 2 (instrumental)
- 102X MISS YOU / BIG BARITONE (instrumental)
- 124X The Honeydripper, Part 1 [reissue] / The Honeydripper, Part 2 [reissue]
- 132X RUTH / LOOSIANA
- 144X LONESOME GUITAR (instrumental) / HEY MAMA
- 151X WHAT IS THE REASON (YOU DON'T LOVE ME) / HAM-BONE BOOGIE (instrumental)
- 152X I COVER THE WATERFRONT (instrumental) / FASCINATION
- 20-547 58th Street Jump (instrumental) / On The Sunny Side Of The Street (instrumental)
- 20-566 Black And Blue (v: Little Willie Jackson) / Jackson's Boogie (instrumental)
- 20-571 I Ain't Got Nobody (v: Peppy Prince) / Shasta (instrumental)
- 20-587 Little Willie's Boogie (instrumental) / You Can Depend On Me (v: Peppy Prince)
- 20-605 Someday, Somehow, Somewhere (v: Little Willie Jackson) / My Baby's Blues (instrumental)
- 20-613 The Peanut Vendor (instrumental) / Let's Jump (instrumental) -note: these 12 sides were recorded by The Honeydrippers and released under the name/leadership of Little Willie Jackson.
- 1031 The Honeydripper, Part 1 / The Honeydripper, Part 2
- 1032 I've Got A Right To Cry / Last Night Blues
- 1033 Tanya (instrumental) / Down Home Blues (instrumental) -note: these 6 sides are reissues of material originally recorded for Exclusive Records; Dot bought these masters and re-released them in 1951.
- 338 I've Got A Right To Cry [re-recording] / The Honeydripper [re-recording]
- 350 Rag Mop / Ramblin' Blues
- 355 Pink Champagne / Sentimental Lover
- 368 Rhythm In The Barnyard, Part 1 / Rhythm In The Barnyard, Part 2
- 379 Little Joe's Boogie / Daddy On My Mind (v: Joe Liggins & Candy Rivers)
- 392 I Just Can't Help Myself / Frankie Lee
- 394 That's The One For Me (v: Joe Liggins & Candy Rivers) / Bob Is The Guy (v: Candy Rivers)
- 402 Whiskey, Gin & Wine / One Sweet Letter (v: Candy Rivers)
- 409 Louisiana Woman / Trying To Lose The Blues
- 413 So Alone / Oh, How I Miss You
- 426 Boogie Woogie Lou / Rain, Rain, Rain (v: Candy Rivers)
- 430 Tanya [re-recording] / Drippers' Boogie [re-recording]
- 441 Cryin' Over You / Going Back To New Orleans
- 453 Blues For Tanya / Freight Train Blues
- 465 Farewell Blues (v: Dell St. John) / Deep Feeling Kind Of Love (v: Joe Liggins & Christine)
- 474 The Big Dipper / Everyone's Down On Me (v: Billy Bivins)
- 492 Make Love To Me / Tears On My Pillow
- 529 Whiskey, Woman & Loaded Dice / Do You Love Me Pretty Baby
- 70440 Yeah, Yeah, Yeah / They Were Doin' The Mambo [rel. 1954]
- 3368 Justina / Go Ahead [rel. 1957]
- 1004 House Party / Tell Me So
Original 10" shellac (78rpm) 3-disc album set
- 1948 Joe Liggins & His Honeydrippers (a self-titled release) [rec. 1945-47] (Exclusive #EX-1004, although not listed on jacket cover)
includes the following 78rpm discs...
- 262 Worried (instrumental) [mx# 1224] / How Come [mx# 1226]
- 238 Someday Sweetheart [mx# 1086] / Yvette (instrumental) [mx# 1087]
- 216 Caravan (instrumental) [mx# 1018] / You Ain't Goin' To Heaven No How [mx# 1017]
LP/CD releases/compilations of note
- 1962 Honeydripper (Mercury #MG-20731/#SR-60731 [LP]) -note: re-recordings of Joe's biggest hits.
- 1974 Great Rhythm & Blues Oldies, Volume 6: Joe Liggins & The Honeydrippers (Blues Spectrum (Johnny Otis' label) #BS-106 [LP])
- 1976 Joe & Jimmy Liggins: Saturday Night Boogie Woogie Man (Sonet #SNTF-5020 [LP]) -note: one side each from Joe and his brother Jimmy; all Specialty material.
- 1981 Joe Liggins & His Honeydrippers: Darktown Strutters Ball [rec. 1945-1950] (Jukebox Lil #JB-601 [LP])
- 1988 Joe Liggins With The Original Million-Seller "The Honeydripper" [rec. 1945-1949] (Jukebox Lil #JB-622 [LP])
- 1989 Joe Liggins & The Honeydrippers (Specialty #SPCD-7006)
- 1992 Dripper's Boogie: Joe Liggins & The Honeydrippers - Vol. 2 (Specialty #SPCD-7025)
- 1996 The Honeydripper: Rare And Unreleased Recordings 1946-1949 (Night Train International #7031)
- 2002 The Shuffle Boogie King (Proper Pairs #PVCD-117 [2CD])
- 2002 The Chronological Joe Liggins 1944-1946 (Classics 'Blues & Rhythm Series' #5020)
- 2003 The Chronological Joe Liggins 1946-1948 (Classics 'Blues & Rhythm Series' #5063)
- 2004 The Chronological Joe Liggins 1948-1950 (Classics 'Blues & Rhythm Series' #5108)
- 2005 The Chronological Joe Liggins 1950-1952 (Classics 'Blues & Rhythm Series' #5155)
- 2008 Jukebox Hits 1945-1951 (Acrobat #ACMCD-4236)
- San Francisco Blues Festival
- Long Beach Blues Festival
- List of Jump blues musicians
- List of artists who reached number one on the Billboard R&B chart
- List of R&B musicians
- First rock and roll record
- Bill Dahl. "Joe Liggins - Biography - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
- Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues: From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books Limited. p. 13. ISBN 1-85868-255-X.
- Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues: From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books Limited. p. 134. ISBN 1-85868-255-X.
- Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 51. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.