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The Online Roots of Rock

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Arthur Crudup - That's All Right (Mama)
1946
 
Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup
August 24, 1905 — March 28, 1974


"Father of Rock 'n' Roll"
— RCA ALBUM PROMOTION

Diana Davies © 1978
Bill Ferguson III
Arthur Crudup with guitar
Arthur Crudup at microphone
Arthur Crudup artwork by Bill Ferguson III
Prolific songwriter Arthur Crudup penned many songs popularized by other artists, but royalty disputes kept him working in lumber and levee camps. Elvis Presley's success with "That's All Right" brought Crudup recognition and a renewed performing career, but still no royalties. He died as he had lived, a poor man.

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"Down in Tupelo I used to hear
old Arthur Crudup bang his box the way I do now,
and I said 'If I ever got to the place
where I could feel all old Arthur felt, I'd be a
music man like nobody ever saw.' "
— ELVIS PRESLEY, 1956


Arthur Crudup
Arthur Crudup was born on August 24, 1905 in Forest, Mississippi. His father was a farmhand/musician and Arthur, by the age of ten, was singing in church choirs and Gospel quartets.
Arthur was large, even as a child, and acquired his nickname early in life. For most of his early life he worked on the farm or as a labourer in lumber and levee camps.
In 1940 he travelled to Chicago as a member of the Harmonizing Four – a Gospel quartet. After breaking with the group Crudup sang on street corners for change and lived in a wooden crate.
His music came to the attention of Lester Melrose, a Blues producer who got him a recording contract on (RCA)Victor's Bluebird label.
He made his first recording with Bluebird in 1941, at the age of 36. His guitar technique was primitive, using only a few basic chords, but it was enough to express his simple but plaintive songs.
Crudup continued to record on the Bluebird label until 1952, but ended his relationship with Melrose in 1947 over royalty disputes. Despite his records selling well in the south, lack of income from his songs forced Crudup to keep returning to the labour camps after each recording date.
He knew his Blues classics like "Rock Me Mama," "Mean Old Frisco," and "My Baby Left Me" were earning royalties because they were being performed by the likes of B.B. King, Big Mama Thornton and Bobby "Blue" Bland. "I was making everybody rich," Crudup complained, "and here I am poor!"
Over the next two years he recorded on different labels under different names before calling it quits in 1954.
Then in the summer of 1954 Elvis Presley released a version of Crudup's "That's All Right." Seeing the commercial success of his song, Crudup again pursued Melrose for royalties, but with no result.
With the advent of Rock & Roll, Crudup's songs were further popularized by Elton John, Rod Stewart, Johnny Winter, Paul Butterfield, Tina Turner, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Canned Heat and Creedence Clearwater Revival.
The resurgence of his material offered Crudup some overdue recognition, but no royalties.
In 1971 Crudup filed a lawsuit for royalties owing. A figure of $60,000 was agreed upon and a cheque drafted, but the publishers refused to sign. Crudup received nothing.
That same year RCA released an album of Crudup's recordings entitled "Father of Rock and Roll."
Three years later, at the age of 69, Arthur Crudup was dead. He died on March 28, 1974 in Nassawadox,Virginia, a poor man.

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The Online Roots of Rock


"I was born poor, I live poor, and
I'm going to die poor."
— ARTHUR CRUDUP


.Featured Sites .

Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup website

Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup website
Wikipedia site with many pertinent links
bio /timeline / related websites


Click on any link below for more information, or to order online

That's All Right
Mama
Meets The Master Blues Bassists
Look On Yonder's Wall
Arthur Crudup - That's All Right Mama
Arthur "Bigboy" Crudup: Meets The Master Blues Bassists
Arthur Crudup - Look On Yonder's Wall
BMG/RCA
1 CD / 22 tracks
Delmark
1 CD / 16 tracks
Delmark
1 CD / 15 tracks

Arthur Crudup:
The Essential
Arthur Crudup:
Rock Me Mama
Arthur Crudup:
His 22
Greatest Songs
Arthur Crudup - The Essential
Arthur Crudup - Rock Me Mama
Arthur Crudup - Rock Me Mama
Classic Blues
2 CDs / 36 tracks
2001
When the Sun Goes Down, Vol 7
Wolf Records
1 CD / 22 tracks
2003

Other Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup Recordings Available Online
Complete 1940-47 (Ariol / 1 CD)
Cool Disposition (Catfish / 1 CD / 7 tracks)
Vol 1 (1941-1946) (Document / 1 CD / 24 tracks)
Vol 2 (1946-1949) (Document / 1 CD / 22 tracks)
Vol 3 (1949-1952) (Document / 1 CD / 22 tracks)
Vol 4 (1952-1954) (Document / 1 CD / 23 tracks)


Click on any link below for more information, or to order online

Arthur Crudup - Born In The Blues video
It's a Mean Old World / Born in the Blues
VHS videotape (NTSC) / 65 minutes
In 1973 Crudup was featured in the film documentary, "Arthur Crudup: Born In The Blues." This documentary is presented along with "It's A Mean Old World" - the story of blind street singer and bottleneck guitarist, Rev. Pearly Brown. This videotape is part of the "Backroads and Byways" series featuring America's vanishing cultures.
info / order
VHS
| DVD



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