Air Week: May 17-23, 2021

Jimmy Witherspoon, Pt. 2 – 1950-56

Jimmy Witherspoon is one of most influential blues shouters to emerge after WWII and yet he remains just a footnote in the evolution of Rhythm & Blues and Rock n’ Roll. In part 1 of our 2 part feature on Spoon, we focused on his early recordings with Jay McShann’s band from 1945-50. During that time, Spoon recorded his signature tune, “Ain’t Nobody’s Business,” which topped the R&B charts during the summer of 1949. This week in part 2, we pick it up in 1950, while he’s still recording for LA’s Modern Records. Spoon would score his last hit, “The Wind Is Blowin'” for that label in 1952. Then he jumps over to Federal Records, where A&R man Ralph Bass tries a few new things, like pairing Spoon with the R&B vocal group, The Lamplighters. Having no charting hits on Federal, Spoon signs with Checker Records in Chicago, where only 3 singles are issued. It becomes clear that blues shouters like Witherspoon are out of fashion with the new Rock n’ Roll record buyers, so he takes a stab at a Rock n’ Roll song, “My Girl Ivy” for Atco in ’56, before reinventing himself as a jazz singer. All of these records must be heard in order to appreciate the depth of styles and influence on Rock n’ Roll Music that Spoon had. Those records are spinning this week on the Juke In The Back with Matt The Cat.