Today in Blues History
Born today in 1893 in Jacksonville, FL was Wesley Shellie Wilson, often credited as Kid Wilson. His stagecraft and performances with his wife and musical partner, Coot Grant, were popular with African-American audiences in the 1910s, 1920s and early 1930s. His stage names included Kid Wilson, Jenkins, Socks, and Sox (or Socks) Wilson. His musical excursions included participation in the duo of Pigmeat Pete and Catjuice Charlie. His recordings include the songs Blue Monday on Sugar Hill and Rasslin' till the Wagon Comes. He played the piano and organ, and Coot Grant played the guitar and sang and danced. The duo was variously billed as Grant and Wilson, Kid and Coot, and Hunter and Jenkins, as they went on to appear and later record with Fletcher Henderson, Mezz Mezzrow, Sidney Bechet, and Louis Armstrong. Their variety was such that they performed separately and together in vaudeville, musical comedies, revues and traveling shows. They also appeared in the 1933 film The Emperor Jones, starring Paul Robeson. Wilson and Grant wrote more than 400 songs during their career, including Gimme a Pigfoot (And a Bottle of Beer) and Take Me for a Buggy Ride (both of which were made famous by Bessie Smith's recordings of them) and Find Me at the Greasy Spoon (If You Miss Me Here) and Prince of Wails for Fletcher Henderson. Their own renditions included such diverse titles as Come on Coot, Do That Thing, Dem Socks Dat My Pappy Wore, and the unreleased Throat Cutting Blues. Grant and Wilson's act, once seen as a rival of Butterbeans and Susie, began to lose favor with the public by the middle of the 1930s.
Also born on this date in Leona, TX in 1933 was Albert Gene Drewery would become known as Albert Collins. He was noted for his powerful playing and his use of altered tunings and a capo. His long association with the Fender Telecaster led to the title "The Master of the Telecaster." Collins started to play regularly in Houston, notably at Shady's Playhouse, where James "Widemouth" Brown (brother of Gatemouth Brown) and other well-known Houston blues musicians would meet for "Blue Monday" jams. By the mid-1950s he had established his reputation as a local guitarist of note and had started to appear regularly at a Fifth Ward club, Walter's Lounge, with the group Big Tiny and the Thunderbirds. The saxophonist and music teacher Henry Hayes heard about Collins from Joe "Guitar" Hughes. After seeing him perform live, Hayes encouraged Collins to record a single for Kangaroo Records, a label he had started with his friend M. L. Young. Collins recorded his debut single, The Freeze, backed with Collins Shuffle, for Kangaroo at Gold Star Studios, in Houston, in the spring of 1958, with Hayes on saxophone. Texas blues bands of this period incorporated a horn section, and Collins later credited Hayes with teaching him how to arrange for horns. In 1964 he recorded Frosty at Gulf Coast Recording Studio, in Beaumont, Texas, for Hall Records, owned by Bill Hall, who had signed Collins on the recommendation of Cowboy Jack Clement, a songwriter and producer who had engineered sessions for Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash at Sun Records. His debut album, The Cool Sounds of Albert Collins, released in 1965 on the TCF label, consisted of previously released instrumentals, including Thaw Out and Don't Lose Your Cool.