Priscilla Bowman

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Priscilla Bowman (born Priscilla I. Mills, May 30, 1928 – July 24, 1988) was an American jazz and rhythm and blues singer, who had a #1 hit single on the US Billboard R&B chart in 1955 as the lead singer with Jay McShann's band with the song, "Hands Off".

She was born in Kansas City, the daughter of Ella and Solomon Mills,[1] and has been called the city's "original rock 'n' roll mama."[2] She was influenced by singers Ruth Brown and Annie Laurie,[1] and joined the Jay McShann band in the early 1950s. In 1955 the band signed to Vee-Jay Records, and Bowman recorded two sessions with them. One of the songs, "Hands Off", became a hit, staying at number 1 on the R&B chart for three weeks in December 1955. The single was notable as the last single to hit number one on the R&B charts without making the Billboard Hot 100.[3]

She recorded three sessions for Vee-Jay, and its subsidiary label Falcon, as a solo singer between 1957 and 1959, but could not repeat her success.[2] However, in 1958 she was the first to record the song "A Rockin' Good Way", with uncredited vocal backing by The Spaniels.[4] The song was co-written by Brook Benton, and became a major hit when Benton recorded it himself as a duo with Dinah Washington in 1960.[5]

Bowman recorded again for Abner Records in 1959, and continued to record and make personal appearances, some with Jay McShann, through the mid-1970s. Thereafter she retired to family life.[1] A compilation album of her recordings, An Original Rock & Roll Mama, was released in 1986.

Bowman died in July 1988 from lung cancer, at the age of 60.[6]


  1. ^ a b c Eagle, Bob; LeBlanc, Eric S. (2013). Blues - A Regional Experience. Santa Barbara: Praeger Publishers. p. 354. ISBN 978-0313344237. 
  2. ^ a b Vee-Jay: The Early Years
  3. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 392. 
  4. ^ JammUp #40
  5. ^ Rob Finnis and Tony Rounce, Booklet with CD "You Heard It Here First", Ace Records CDCHD1204, 2008
  6. ^ - accessed August 2010

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