Raymond Hill (musician)

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Raymond Earl Hill (April 29, 1933 – April 16, 1996) was an American tenor saxophonist and singer. He was best known as a member of Ike Turner's band the Kings of Rhythm in the 1950s, and also recorded under his own name and worked as a session musician.

Biography[edit]

He was born in Clarksdale, Mississippi. His father ran a juke joint which featured musicians such as Sonny Boy Williamson and Robert Nighthawk, and Hill learned to play the saxophone.[1] Together with his friend, drummer Billy Gayles, he started playing in Ike Turner's bands in the late 1940s, both the Tophatters big band and the smaller Kings of Rhythm.[2] Hill was Turner's regular tenor saxophone player at the band's first recording sessions at the Sun Studio in Memphis, Tennessee, in March 1951, which produced the R&B classic "Rocket 88", credited to Hill's fellow saxophonist and singer Jackie Brenston. The record features a solo by the 17-year-old Hill, after Brenston's cry of "blow your horn, Raymond, blow!". The single reached no.1 on the R&B chart and has often been called "the first rock and roll record".[2][3]

Hill left Turner's regular performing band in 1952 after a dispute over payments.[2] However, he continued to play on some of Turner's records, and also worked as a session musician at Sun and other local labels, backing Howlin' Wolf and Little Junior Parker among others.[2][3] Hill plays tenor sax on Parker's "Mystery Train" and is the lead performer on the instrumental side, Part 2, of Jessie Hill's "Oo-poo-pah-doo". "Spread your fingers, Raymond!", the unrelated Jessie Hill shouts out. In October 1952 he recorded a session with his own band, including Turner's former guitarist Willie Kizart, which remained unreleased for many years. He also recorded with Turner's band, featuring Turner on guitar and Billy Emerson on piano, releasing the single "The Snuggle" / "Bourbon Street Jump" under his own name on Sun in 1954, both sides being instrumentals.[1][2]

From 1955, he returned to working in Turner's band on a full-time basis, and moved to St. Louis, Missouri with them. In 1957 he had a relationship with the band's new 17-year-old backing singer Anna Mae Bullock, then known as Little Ann and later as Tina Turner. This led to the birth the following year of her first child, Raymond Craig, who later took the surname Turner.[2][3] Before the birth, Hill broke his ankle and left the band, staying with Jackie Brenston in St. Louis, while Ike Turner and his band moved to California. For a time Hill worked in Albert King's band, before returning to Clarksdale. In the 1970s he recorded an EP for the newly founded High Water records with Lillie, his wife at the time, then left the music business.[2]

He died in Clarksdale in 1996, at the age of 62.

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Raymond Hill at Find a Grave