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’