Bobby Womack - How I Miss You Baby (Minit 32081)
How I Miss You Baby
Reggie Young came back home to Memphis in 1959, after having backed up Johnny Horton out on the Louisiana Hayride, Elvis' erstwhile bass player Bill Black snapped him up as the cornerstone of the new instrumental combo he was forming.
Smokie, Part 2. This bulldog of a record would shoot straight to the top of Billboard's R&B chart, and stay there for a full month, as would the follow-up White Silver Sands. The fact that this all-white band from Memphis could just own the R&B chart for eight weeks in early 1960 is simply amazing, and set the stage for much of what was to follow.
Chips Moman. We asked Chips a couple of years ago if he actually was a member of the group... "Hell, everybody was in Bill Black's Combo!" he said. Named Billboard's 'Number One Instrumental Group' three years in a row, this is where The Sound of Memphis was born.
The Beatles who they wanted as an opening act on their first American tour in 1964, they asked for Bill Black's Combo right off the bat. Black himself was in declining health, and so it was up to Reggie to put together a version of The Combo to take out on the road. With a young George Harrison just soaking it all in (both on this tour and a subsequent tour of England in 1965), it's hard to overstate the influence Young's 'untouchable' guitar had on the future of Rock & Roll.
Ace Cannon and Willie Mitchell were in actuality cut by that same core group of musicians, and took that 'Bill Black (who would die of a brain tumor in 1965) Sound' to the next level. Howard Grimes told me that when he heard 20-75 on a Memphis jukebox in 1964, he knew that someday he wanted to be in a band like that...
Don Bryant, Norman West, George Jackson and the great O.V. Wright. Once Al Jackson, Jr. left Willie Mitchell's road band for good, he went through five drummers before he hired Howard Grimes. It was a dream come true when Willie invited Howard to work on the session for Eight Men, Four Women in 1967.
Teenie Hodges. Just like George Harrison before him, Hodges was in awe of Reggie, and considered him his mentor. He told me a few years ago that he loved Reggie so much that he named his first born son after him... When Young moved on later that year, the baton at Hi was passed to Teenie who would take it and go on to create his own unique style. Reggie's influence on him, and his role in the evolution of Willie Mitchell's Hi Sound, is a part of the story that's often overlooked.
Chet Atkins or Les Paul... "Bobby Womack," Reggie answered without hesitation... When Womack showed up at American with Wilson Pickett in July of 1967, it ushered in one of the most soulful and creative periods in Memphis music history. With Womack's 'upside down and backward' left handed style of playing, he and Reggie were like a 'mirror-image', and challenged each other to ever greater heights.
Darryl Carter on great songs like this one we have here today (taken from his superb Moman produced My Prescription LP), the interplay of their two guitars can be heard on great records by former 'Gospel Highway' cohorts who cut there like Roscoe Robinson, LeRoy Crume and L.C. Cooke, as well as those by a host of other Atlantic and Sound Stage 7 artists. By the time Womack moved on in 1968, he had left his mark. "Just about everything that I play has something to do with Bobby Womack," Reggie said when Bobby passed away last month, "He was a large influence on me."
piece about Bobby last month, I received a comment that read; "...great info, but no mention of the fact that all of 'Communication' and most of 'Understanding' was cut at Muscle Shoals Sound with guitar work by the unsung Tippy Armstrong..." SO, please allow me set the record straight here (thanks, Mark). All I can say is that there was no mention of that fact in the liner notes to the Stateside 'twofer' CD I bought those albums on ten years ago. I will, however, underscore the fact that Womack snagged his first Number One hit by returning to American (and compatriot Darryl Carter) in 1972, and including Woman's Gotta Have It on 'Understanding'.
Netflix and everything, there's a big part of the Southern Soul story that remains untold. Roben Jones interviewed 'The Swampers' for her great book The Memphis Boys, and here's what they had to say:
I don't think that is conveyed adequately in the film...
Historical Marker placed on the corner of Chelsea and Thomas in North Memphis, where so much great music was recorded, on August 13th at 2pm. Chips, Reggie and the rest of 'the Boys' are scheduled to attend. I'm happy to report that my cohort John Broven and I will also be on hand, as well as at The Memphis Boys Salute at Graceland that evening in celebration of the 45th anniversary of Elvis' landmark sessions there.
I wouldn't miss it for the world...