Monday, August 15, 2011

Huey "Piano" Smith and The Clowns - "Don't You Just Know It" - Ace, 1958

It's time for a return to New Orleans, with a classic cut from RnB legend Huey "Piano" Smith.

Huey Smith
Huey was making music from an early age; it's rumored he composed and performed his first tune at the age of 8! By the time he was 15 he was playing clubs, and by the time he was 18 he had signed to Savoy Records.  Huey came up as a sideman to some of the biggest names in the business, guys like Little Richard, Lloyd Price, and Earl King. But in '57 he formed The Clowns and began releasing tunes at Ace Records. They hit it big with "Rockin' Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu", an absolute essential New Orleans tune. Today's single, released in '58, is their most well known hit, making it all the way to #4 on the RnB charts. You may also be familiar with Frankie Ford's "Sea Cruise" - a number that Smith composed and originally performed, which took that charts by storm when smooth white crooner Ford did his take.

After the late 50's, Huey was never able to regain that early fame. At some point later, he became a Jehovah's Witness and dropped out of the music scene entirely. But his piano playing, and its influence on Rock and Roll, won't be forgotten.

Johnny Vincent
Ace Records was run by Johnny Vincent. After his start at Specialty as an A&R man and producer, he opened Ace around '54 - '55. Ace had a few great hits, biggest among them the Smith and Ford tunes mentioned above, but by the early 60's things began to slow down and in '62 the label was shuttered. Johnny Vincent passed away in 2000 of heart failure, he was 74.

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