Robert Blackwell

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Robert Blackwell
Birth nameRobert Alexander Blackwell
Also known asBumps Blackwell
Born(1918-05-23)May 23, 1918
Seattle, Washington, U.S.
DiedMarch 9, 1985(1985-03-09) (aged 66)
Hacienda Heights, Whittier, California, U.S.
GenresRock and roll, pop
Occupation(s)Songwriter, record producer, arranger
Years active1947–1981

Robert Alexander "Bumps" Blackwell (May 23, 1918 – March 9, 1985) was an American bandleader, songwriter, arranger, and record producer,[1] best known for his work overseeing the early hits of Little Richard, as well as grooming Ray Charles, Quincy Jones, Ernestine Anderson, Lloyd Price, Sam Cooke, Herb Alpert, Larry Williams, and Sly and the Family Stone at the start of their music careers.[2][3]


Born in Seattle, Washington,[1] Blackwell led a jazz group in the late 1940s that included pianist Ray Charles and trumpeter Quincy Jones.[4][5][6] He moved to Hollywood, California, to continue studying composition, but he instead took a job at Art Rupe's Specialty Records as an arranger and producer.[1] He worked with Sam Cooke, Larry Williams, Lloyd Price and Guitar Slim, as well as producing Little Richard during his rise to stardom in 1955 and 1956.[1]

In addition to producing Little Richard's breakthrough hit "Tutti Frutti" following hearing him sing the song in the studio, Blackwell also produced Little Richard's other mid-1950s hits, co-writing some as them as well, including "Long Tall Sally", "Good Golly Miss Molly", "Ready Teddy", and "Rip It Up".[1] They all quickly became rock and roll standards, and have subsequently been covered by hundreds of artists including Elvis Presley, the Beatles and Creedence Clearwater Revival.

He also produced Sam Cooke's hit "You Send Me".[7] Blackwell left Specialty in 1957, taking Sam Cooke with him to Keen Records.[1] He was the West Coast A&R director for Mercury Records from 1959 to 1963, and produced about an album's worth of Little Richard's gospel recordings for that label. "He got what he Wanted (But he lost what he Had)" was a big hit overseas, contemporaneously with his tour of Europe, with the Beatles, as his opening act. He became Richard's manager and continued to work with him into the 1970s.[1]

In 1981, Blackwell produced some songs for Bob Dylan's album Shot of Love, including the title track.[1]

In 1985, he issued a 12-inch single called "Give it Up - Pay Little Richard", following Richard's latest comeback the year before .

Blackwell died at his home in Hacienda Heights in Whittier, California, in 1985 of pneumonia.[1][8]

Selective discography[edit]

As co-writer and producer[edit]

As producer[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Colin Larkin, ed. (1997). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music (Concise ed.). Virgin Books. pp. 143/4. ISBN 1-85227-745-9.
  2. ^ White, Charles (2003), p. 43. The Life and Times of Little Richard: The Authorised Biography. Omnibus Press, ISBN 978-0711997615
  3. ^ White, Charles (2003), p. 78-79. The Life and Times of Little Richard: The Authorised Biography. Omnibus Press, ISBN 978-0711997615
  4. ^ "Quincy Jones Interview #1". American Masters. June 8, 2001. Retrieved November 21, 2022.
  5. ^ "Quincy Jones Interview #2". American Masters. July 24, 2001. Retrieved November 21, 2022.
  6. ^ "Quincy Jones Biography -- Academy of Achievement". Archived from the original on October 14, 2012. Retrieved December 22, 2014.
  7. ^ "News". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on March 28, 2007. Retrieved December 24, 2017.
  8. ^ "B: Rock Star's Digest | Database: Birth, death, cause of death, trivia, links". Archived from the original on January 30, 2009. Retrieved November 26, 2008.

External links[edit]