December 25, 1905|
Anniston, Alabama, United States
|Died||January 7, 1964
Los Angeles, California, United States
|Labels||Bluebird Records, Document Records|
Pullum, an Alabama-born nightclub singer, was one of the more obscure blues stars. He was accompanied on his few recordings by two pianists; Rob Cooper on his earlier discs, and Andy Boy on his later efforts. Pullum's major success was with his self-written song, "Black Gal What Makes Your Head So Hard?" (1934). It sold in large quantities and was covered by Leroy Carr, Skip James, Mary Johnson, Josh White, Bumble Bee Slim, the Harlem Hamfats, Smokey Hogg, Jimmie Gordon, and James Crutchfield. His subsequent recordings did not fare as well.
Pullum recorded four sessions, which yielded a total of 30 tracks, between April 1934 and February 1936. The tracks included two intended sequels to "Black Gal", but overall sales were modest. Pullum later performed on radio on the Houston station, KTLC, backed by another pianist, Preston "Peachy" Chase. Pullum relocated to Los Angeles, California in the 1940s, and he further interpreted "Black Gal" into "My Woman", accompanied by Lloyd Glenn, on Swingtime Records in 1948. He also reputedly recorded a demo with Specialty Records in 1953.
Although he was a gifted songwriter, few of his contemporaries seemed able to recall him.
Music journalist Tony Russell wrote that "Pullum's high clear voice, drifting over the peaks and valleys of "Black Gal What Makes Your Head So Hard?", brought the shock of the new into mid-1930s blues. No one before, male or female, had sung with such feline grace. What's more, Pullum's ethereal manner hardly prepared the listener for the song's scenario of insults, smoking pistols and suicide".
- Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 1 (1934-35) - (1995) - Document
- Personnel: Joe Pullum (vocals); Rob Cooper, Andy Boy (piano)
- Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 2 (1933-51) - (1995) - Document
- Eagle, Bob; LeBlanc, Eric S. (2013). Blues: A Regional Experience. Santa Barbara, California: Praeger. p. 44. ISBN 978-0313344237.
- Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues: From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books Limited. pp. 157–158. ISBN 1-85868-255-X.
- "Big Road Blues". Sundayblues.org. Retrieved 2016-08-10.
- Joe Pullum @ Nme.com Archived June 4, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.