Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Nappy Brown - Don't Be Angry (Savoy 1155)

Don't Be Angry


A giant of early R&B, Nappy Brown was just a huge influence on everybody from Ray Charles to Jackie Wilson. Convinced by Savoy Records chief Herman Lubinsky to leave his Gospel past behind him, he began singing the devil's music in 1954. This monster hit we have here spent 15 weeks on the R&B charts in 1955, including 3 weeks in the number two slot, held there by Little Walter's My Babe and Brother Ray's I've Got A Woman. If it sounds a little like the records Atlantic was cutting across the river, that's probably due to the presence of Sam 'The Man' Taylor, the elemental sax man on so many of their great sides. Brown's smokin' 1957 version of (Night Time Is) The Right Time preceded Charles' smash by a couple of years (not to mention our man Lattimore Brown's 1961 cover), and further illustrates what a pioneer he was. He toured constantly throughout the fifties, and it was his full-bodied vocal style and fabled stage antics that helped lay the groundwork for Soul.

After reportedly spending some time behind bars in the sixties, Nappy kind of disappeared from the public eye for a couple of decades before he came roaring back on the Blues circuit in the 1980s, recording albums for Landslide, Black Top and New Moon. Just last September, his Blind Pig release Long Time Coming was nominated for a Blues Music Award, and Nappy was featured as the cover story in an issue of Living Blues. He was back on the road, touring Europe that fall.

According to Wikipedia; "At the ceremony for the Blues Music Awards in May of 2008, Brown gave one last electrifying performance, capping an incredible comeback year." Well, as fate would have it, I believe that I actually witnessed his final performance at the Crawfish Festival in New Jersey on June 1st. He gave it his best shot, but It was obvious that he wasn't well, and he all but collapsed as he left the stage. Nappy was hospitalized for a 'multitude of illnesses' later that month, illnesses which finally took him home this past Saturday.

Funeral services will take place at St. Paul's Baptist Church in Brown's hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina this coming Saturday, September 27th at I pm.

It Don't Hurt No More.


Blogger Ravel said...

I am very late to thank you, but this tune stayed in my head for days!!! Thanks for posting it...
It seems that everybody is dying recently...

5:47 PM  
Anonymous CS said...

Hi, Red! I don't suppose you have any more photos that you took of that day? It was pretty awful to see Nappy like that, but I'd still like to have as many mementos as possible (especially since another artist who I was hanging out with there has just passed away, as well).


2:25 PM  
Blogger Red Kelly said...

CS -

I do have a few more photos from that day, and would be glad to send them along to you if you're interested. Just shoot me an email through the link on the sidebar.


6:16 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I interviewed Nappy Brown in Teaneck, NJ for a documentary about songwriter Rose Marie McCoy, who he wrote "Don't Be Angry" with. He couldn't remember writing it with her, but when the camera man mentioned how beautiful she was, he said, "She was something'. Dressed her head off. Walked down the street everybody'd be lookin'." Some things a man remembers best.

11:34 AM  

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