Mel Brown (guitarist)

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Mel Brown
Mel Brown.jpg
Background information
Born(1939-10-07)October 7, 1939
Jackson, Mississippi, United States
DiedMarch 20, 2009(2009-03-20) (aged 69)
Kitchener, Ontario Canada
GenresBlues rock, blues, R&B
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter
InstrumentsVocals, guitar
Associated actsBobby "Blue" Bland, The Olympics, Etta James, Albert Collins

Mel Brown (October 7, 1939 – March 20, 2009) was an American-born blues guitarist and singer.[1] He is best remembered for his decade long backing of Bobby Bland,[1] although in his own right, Brown recorded over a dozen albums between 1967 and 2006.


Brown was born in Jackson, Mississippi, United States, and was presented with his first guitar as a teenager while recovering from a bout of meningitis. By 1955, after performing backing duties for both Sonny Boy Williamson II and Jimmy Beasley, Brown had a two year long stint backing Johnny Otis. This led to work with Etta James, where he swapped his Gibson Les Paul for an ES-175 to give him a richer and fuller tone to his guitar work, that set him apart from his contemporaries.[1]

The stress of constant touring led him to Los Angeles, California, to resume work with Otis, spending an extended residency at the Club Sands. Further session duties saw Brown back Bobby Darin and Bill Cosby among others, as well as performing on T-Bone Walker's Funky Town. ABC Records producer Bob Thiele offered Brown the chance to record his own material, and Brown released Chicken Fat in 1967.[1]

One of his most celebrated tracks is the 11+ minute guitar solo, "Eighteen Pounds of Unclean Chitluns", which is on I'd Rather Suck My Thumb (1970),[2][3][4] and was reissued as the lead track (and title) on a BluesWay Records collection released in 1973. For many years in the 1980s and 1990s, Brown was a prominent member of the house band at Antone's Night Club in Austin, Texas.[1] Brown also played a prominent role in the Oliver Nelson Big Band that released Live from Los Angeles on Impulse in 1967.

Brown was nominated for a Juno Award in both 2001 and 2002.

Brown died aged 69, on March 20, 2009, in Kitchener, Ontario, of complications from emphysema.[5][6]

A documentary film, Love Lost & Found: The Story of Mel Brown directed by Sean Jasmins for Blue Fusion Productions was granted a theatrical release in 2014.[7]

On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Mel Brown among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.[8]


As leader[edit]

As sideman[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Mel Brown | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 2019-12-23. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ "I'd Rather Suck My Thumb - Mel Brown | Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-09-25. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ "Mel Brown - I'd Rather Suck My Thumb (Vinyl, LP, Album)". Retrieved 2016-09-25. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ "Mel Brown - Eighteen Pounds Of Unclean Chitlings (Vinyl)". Retrieved 2016-09-25. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ "Consummate bluesman" is gone Archived 2009-03-22 at the Wayback Machine, Terry Pender, Waterloo Record, March 21, 2009
  6. ^ "Delta bluesman Mel Brown dies in adopted hometown of Kitchener, Ont.", CBC News website, March 22, 2009
  7. ^ "Love Lost & Found: The Story of Mel Brown". 2014-06-05. Retrieved 2016-09-25. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ Rosen, Jody (June 25, 2019). "Here Are Hundreds More Artists Whose Tapes Were Destroyed in the UMG Fire". The New York Times. Retrieved June 28, 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

External links[edit]