Percy Mayfield

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Percy Mayfield
Born (1920-08-12)August 12, 1920
Origin Minden, Webster Parish, Louisiana, United States
Died August 11, 1984(1984-08-11) (aged 63)
Los Angeles, California, United States[1]
Genres Rhythm and blues
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1947–1960s
Labels Specialty, Chess, Imperial
Associated acts Ray Charles, Charles Brown

Percy Mayfield (August 12, 1920 – August 11, 1984) was an American rhythm-and-blues singer with a smooth vocal style and a songwriter known for the songs "Hit the Road Jack" and "Please Send Me Someone to Love".


Mayfield was born in Minden, Louisiana, the seat of Webster Parish, in the northwestern part of the state. As a youth, he had a talent for poetry, which led him to songwriting and singing. He began his performing career in Texas and then moved to Los Angeles in 1942, but without success as a singer until 1947, when a small record label, Swing Time Records, signed him to record his song "Two Years of Torture." The record sold steadily over the next few years, prompting Art Rupe to sign Mayfield to his label, Specialty Records, in 1950.[2]

Mayfield's vocal style was influenced by such stylists as Charles Brown, but unlike many West Coast bluesmen, Mayfield did not focus on the white market. He sang blues ballads, mostly songs he wrote, in a gentle vocal style. His most famous song, "Please Send Me Someone to Love", a number one R&B hit single in 1950, was widely influential and recorded by many other singers.[3]

Mayfield was severely injured in an automobile crash in 1952, which left him with a facial disfigurement that soon ended his career as a performer but did not stop his prolific songwriting. He continued to write and record for Specialty until 1954 and then recorded for Chess Records and Imperial Records. His career continued to flourish, with songs like "Strange Things Happening", "Lost Love", "What a Fool I Was", "Prayin' for Your Return", "Cry Baby", and "Big Question".[4]

In 1961, Mayfield's song "Hit the Road Jack" brought him to the attention of Ray Charles, who signed him to his Tangerine Records, primarily as a songwriter. Mayfield wrote "Hide nor Hair", "At the Club", "Danger Zone", and "On the Other Hand, Baby" for Tangerine[2]

Following his RCA recordings in the early 1970s, Mayfield again slipped into obscurity and poverty, but there was a final chapter of his career. In the early 1980s, Bay Area keyboardist Mark Naftalin discovered that Mayfield was living in the East Bay area and was able to provide him with a band for live performances in several Marin County and East Bay clubs. The exposure led to a 1982 Timeless studio date with the Phillip Walker Blues Band.


Mayfield died of a heart attack on August 11, 1984, one day before his 64th birthday, having again fallen into obscurity.[5] He was interred at Inglewood Park Cemetery, in Inglewood.

Personal life[edit]

Mayfield married three times. The identity of his first wife is unknown. His second wife was Willie Mae Atlas Mayfield. His third wife was Tina Mayfield. With his second wife, he had one child, a daughter, Pamela, and three grandchildren.


  1. ^ Talevski, Nick (7 April 2010). Rock Obituaries – Knocking on Heaven's Door. Omnibus Press. p. 403. ISBN 978-0-85712-117-2. 
  2. ^ a b "Percy Mayfield". Home.earthlink/net. Retrieved 2006-11-06. 
  3. ^ Gillett, Charlie (1996). The Rise of Rock and Roll (2nd ed.). New York: Da Capo Press. pp. 144–146. ISBN 0-306-80683-5. 
  4. ^ "Percy Mayfield". Retrieved 2006-11-06. 
  5. ^ [1][dead link]

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