Monday, February 14, 2011

Larry Williams - "Slow Down" - Specialty, 1958

You can't talk about New Orleans RnB/Rock without talking about Mr. Larry Williams.  So lets!
Born in 1935, Larry took to the piano as a youngster.  In his teens, his family relocated to Oakland, CA, but Larry found himself back in New Orleans before too long.  One of his first jobs was working as Lloyd Price's driver. Larry quickly befriended many musicians, playing with the likes of Price, Roy Brown, and Percy Mayfield.  In 1955 he met Little Richard, and was introduced to the cats at Specialty. When Little Richard decided to leave the Rock world for a stint in the minisrty, Larry Williams was quickly prepared by Specialty to follow in Richard's footsteps on the label.  So out came the piano-driven stompers!
Rick James don't have a thing on Larry Williams

"Bony Marone" was his biggest hit, but there were many others - and today's 45 is one.  You may have heard a cover of "Slow Down" by The Beatles, John Lennon in particular was a big fan of Williams. "Slow Down" was also covered by The Jam, Brian May, and The Young Rascals.
Larry Williams always had a connection to the seedier side of things.  He was reputed to have worked as a pimp before making it in music.  And he was arrested for the sale of narcotics in 1960, resulting in jail time.  The drugs and violence continued to follow him throughout his life.  One of the more infamous episodes: 1977 he held a gun to Little Richard's head over a cocaine debt.  Cocaine's a hell of a drug!
On January 7, 1980, Larry Williamswas found dead from a gushot wound to the head in his Los Angeles home - an apparent suicide that has been contested by some.
Behind that door, Rupe's got the craziest RnB you ever heard
Specialty Records made a huge contribution to music history with an impressive catalog of releases stretching back to 1946. Tons of RnB, Blues, early Rock, and Gospel came out on Specialty.  The label was run by Art Rupe, known by many as one of the most honest businessmen in the shady world of music. The label seems to have stopped producing records in the early 60s, but I believe many of the early singles were re-released over the years so 45s are abundant.  There are the old 10" records out there though, for those 78RPM heads.
And of course, the clip!

No comments:

Post a Comment