Farewell to Tommy Brown

In my book Southern Crossroads, Goergia Blues , there isa chaapter on Tommy Brown, who I  included as a living legend. Unfortunately, Tommy Brown died last week. The entire Atlanta blues community was saddened and I cried the entire time I was writing the g memorial piece for Making a Scene.  Please follow the link to see the wonderful photos an ideo there.

 

Atlanta blues  musician and comedian Tommy Brown died Saturday, March 12.  He was 85.

Last year, Tommy was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in Memphis, TN. In his g career, he made a number of both blues and comedy albums. His big hit was in 1951, “Weepin’ and Cryin’,” and that, along with his trademark line from his comedy albums, “I Ain’t Lyin’:remained part of his act right up until near the end.

Social  media was overflowing on Sunday with photos, videos and expressions of sorrow, love and respect as the news spread through the blues community. People were reminiscing about the first time they saw Tommy perform or  the last time they spoke to him. Everyone  agreed that he was a very special gentleman, a great vocalist and always with a joke on any occasion.

I remember the first time  I saw Tommy Brown. He was in his 70’s at the time and I could not believe  it as I watched him dance across the stage and jump high in the air,. Then he went into his famous “Weepin’ and Cryin’ and fell to the stage floor, crying real tears and rolling off the stage! For a moment I thought he really fell but then he was up and being helped back to the stage. I tell you, the man put on a show.
As for the jokes, it is jus as Betty Shafer Klein said on Facebook:  “Going to see Tommy meant you would not only be enjoying some great music but also be having smiles and laughter from him telling his famous jokes. Often you had heard them many times over but you couldn’t help laughing right along with Tommy.”

He was a regular at Blind Willie’s and at Northside Tavern, often appearing with The Breeze Kings as well as many other musicians.

Tommy Brown was a true Atlanta legend, storyteller, funny man and blues singer  He is going to be missed more than words can say.

RIP Tommy. We love you and I ain’t lyin’

Review of T’ain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do by Rev. Keith A. Gordon, About.com

T'ain't Nobody's Business If I Do book coverAuthor Rhetta Akamatsu has a lot of interests, and one of them is blues music. When reading about the blues, the Marietta Georgia native discovered that female blues singers were often overlooked in books written about the music. To help balance the scales, Akamatsu put together T’Ain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do: Women Blues Singers Old and New, which takes an in-depth look into the lives of blues women from both the early days of the music as well as the contemporary blues scene.

Akamatsu put a lot of research into T’Ain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do, and she covers an impressive range of blues artists. The first section of the book, titled “The Early Blues Women,” includes profiles of classic early era blues singers like Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, Ida Cox, Memphis Minnie, and Sippie Wallace, as well as R&B-oriented modern era singers like Ruth Brown and Big Mama Thornton.

The second section of T’Ain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do covers “Blues Women From The ’60s To The Present,” offering profiles of old-school blues and R&B artists like Etta James and Irma Thomas, as well as traditionally-oriented contemporary blues singers like Marcia Ball and Saffire (the Uppity Blues Women), along with more pop-and-rock-oriented performers like Bonnie Raitt and Janis Joplin, among others.

Eighteen women are covered in the pages of T’Ain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do, a long overdue effort to put the significant and influential contributions of female blues artists in their proper context.