Mel Brown (guitarist)

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Mel Brown
Mel Brown.jpg
Background information
Born(1939-10-07)October 7, 1939
Jackson, Mississippi, U.S.
DiedMarch 20, 2009(2009-03-20) (aged 69)
Kitchener, Ontario Canada
GenresBlues rock, blues, R&B
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter
Instrument(s)Vocals, guitar

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] Though principally a blues musician, Brown would also transition into jazz and soul jazz through his association with Bob Thiele, including a prominent role with the Oliver Nelson Big Band and appearing on Live from Los Angeles released by Impulse.[2]

One of Brown's most celebrated tracks is the 11+ minute guitar solo, "Eighteen Pounds of Unclean Chitlings", which features on I'd Rather Suck My Thumb (1970),[3][4][5] 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 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.[6][7]

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.[8]


As leader[edit]

As sideman[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Mel Brown | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 2019-12-23.
  2. ^ "Oliver Nelson - Live from Los Angeles". AllMusic. 2021-02-04. Retrieved 2021-06-18.
  3. ^ "I'd Rather Suck My Thumb - Mel Brown | Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-09-25.
  4. ^ "Mel Brown - I'd Rather Suck My Thumb (Vinyl, LP, Album)". Retrieved 2016-09-25.
  5. ^ "Mel Brown - Eighteen Pounds Of Unclean Chitlings (Vinyl)". Retrieved 2016-09-25.
  6. ^ "Consummate bluesman" is gone Archived 2009-03-22 at the Wayback Machine, Terry Pender, Waterloo Record, March 21, 2009
  7. ^ "Delta bluesman Mel Brown dies in adopted hometown of Kitchener, Ont.", CBC News website, March 22, 2009
  8. ^ "Love Lost & Found: The Story of Mel Brown". 2014-06-05. Retrieved 2016-09-25.

External links[edit]