|Born||August 12, 1920|
|Origin||Minden, Webster Parish, Louisiana, United States|
|Died||August 11, 1984
Los Angeles, California, United States
|Genres||Rhythm and blues|
|Labels||Specialty, Chess, Imperial|
|Associated acts||Ray Charles, Charles Brown|
Percy Mayfield (August 12, 1920 – August 11, 1984) was an American songwriter famous for the songs "Hit the Road Jack" and "Please Send Me Someone to Love", as well as a successful rhythm and blues artist known for his smooth vocal style.
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, 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.
Although his vocal style was influenced by such stylists as Charles Brown, Mayfield did not focus on the white market, unlike many West Coast bluesmen. Rather, he sang blues ballads, mostly his own songs, in a gentle vocal style. His most famous recording, "Please Send Me Someone to Love", a number one R&B hit single in 1950, was widely influential and recorded by many other singers.
A 1952 automobile accident left Mayfield seriously injured, including a facial disfigurement that limited his performing. However, that did not stop his prolific songwriting. Mayfield 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".
In 1961, he came to the attention of Ray Charles with his song "Hit the Road Jack". Charles signed him to his Tangerine Records label, primarily as a songwriter; there he wrote "Hide nor Hair", "At the Club", "Danger Zone", and "On the Other Hand, Baby".
The period following the RCA recordings in the early 1970s saw Mayfield once again slip into obscurity and poverty. There was one final chapter to his career. In the early 1980s, Mark Naftalin discovered that Mayfield was living in the East Bay and was able to provide him with a band for live performances around several Marin County and East Bay clubs. The exposure led to the 1982 Timeless studio date with the Phillip Walker Blues Band.
When Mayfield died of a heart attack on August 11, 1984, one day before his 64th birthday, he had fallen back into obscurity. The "Poet Laureate of the Blues" was interred at Inglewood Park Cemetery in Los Angeles.
Percy 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, daughter Pamela, and three grandchildren.
- Talevski, Nick (7 April 2010). Rock Obituaries - Knocking On Heaven's Door. Omnibus Press. p. 403. ISBN 978-0-85712-117-2.
- "Percy Mayfield". Home.earthlink/net. Retrieved 2006-11-06.
- Gillett, Charlie (1996). The Rise of Rock and Roll ((2nd Ed.) ed.). New York, N.Y.: Da Capo Press. pp. 144–146. ISBN 0-306-80683-5.
- "Percy Mayfield". History-of-rock.com. Retrieved 2006-11-06.
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