|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 rhythm and blues singer with a smooth vocal style and 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.
His 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.
Mayfield was severely injured in an automobile crash in 1952, which left him with a facial disfigurement that 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".
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".
In the period following the RCA recordings in the early 1970s, Mayfield again slipped 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 in several Marin County and East Bay clubs. The exposure led to the 1982 Timeless studio date with the Phillip Walker Blues Band.
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.
- 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.). New York: 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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