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"Q" NEWS

Where the sound of blues gospel, jazz, and soul music is made.

Q NEWS
WHAT DO BLUES GOT TO DO WITH IT?

Miles Dewey Davis
Growing Up In East St. Louis


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Photo of Miles Davis

Early Years(1926–44)
Miles Dewey Davis III was born on May 26, 1926, to an affluent African American family in Alton, Illinois. 
His father, Miles Dewey Davis, Jr., was a dentist. In 1927 the family moved to East St. Louis, Illinois. 
They also owned a substantial ranch in the Delta region of Arkansas near the city of Pine Bluff, where Davis's father and grandfather were from. It was in both East St. Louis and near Pine Bluff that young Davis developed his earliest appreciation for music listening to the gospel music of the black church.


Miles Davis Youth House on 17th st. and Kansas Av., East St. Louis, IL in oct. 2014
Davis' mother, Cleota Mae Davis (née Henry), wanted her son to learn the piano; she was a capable blues pianist but did not tell Miles. His musical studies began at 13, when his father gave him a trumpet and arranged lessons with local musician Elwood Buchanan. Davis later suggested that

 

the music society and, when not at school, playing professionally first at the local Elks Club. At 17, he spent a year playing in Eddie Randle's band, the Blue Devils. During this time, Sonny Stitt tried to persuade him to join the Tiny Bradshaw band, then passing through town, but Davis' mother insisted that he finish his final year of high school. He graduated from East St. Louis Lincoln High School in 1944. In 1944, the Billy Eckstine band visited East St. Louis. Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker were members of the band; they invited Davis to play the third trumpet for a couple of weeks because their regular member, Buddy Anderson, was ill. 
Even after this experience, once Eckstine's band left town, Davis' parents were still keen for him to continue formal academic studies.

Q-NEWS WHAT DO BLUES GOT TO DO WITH IT? writer Dwight L. Quinn,  April  26, 2021 

NEW RELEASE :
 
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Q NEWS
WHAT DO BLUES  GOT TO DO WITH IT?

Chuck Berry and Johnnie Johnson
 Just Across The Pond!


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The St. Louis Arch

He was born Johnnie Clyde Johnson in Fairmont, West Virginia, and began playing piano in 1928. He joined the United States Marine Corps during World War II where he was a member of Bobby Troup's all serviceman jazz orchestra, The Barracudas. After his return, he moved to Detroit, Illinois, and then Chicago, where he sat in with many notable 
artists, including Muddy Waters and Little Walter.

He moved to St. Louis, Missouri in 1952 and immediately put together a jazz and blues group, The Sir John Trio with drummer Ebby Hardy and saxophonist, Alvin Bennett. The three scored a regular gig at the Cosmopolitan Club in East St. Louis. On New Year's Eve 1952, Alvin Bennett had a stroke and could not perform. Johnson, searching for a last-minute replacement, called a young man named Chuck Berry, the only musician Johnson knew who, because of his inexperience would likely not be playing on New Year's Eve. Although then a limited guitarist, Chuck Berry added vocals and showmanship to the group. As Bennett would not be able to play again because of his stroke, Johnson hired Berry as a permanent member of the trio.

They would remain the Sir John's Trio until Berry took one of their tunes, a reworking of Bob Wills' version of "Ida Red" to Chess Records. The Chess brothers liked the tune and soon the trio was in Chicago recording "Maybellene" and "Wee Wee Hours" – a song Johnson had been playing as an instrumental for years for which Berry quickly penned some lyrics. By the time the trio left Chicago, Berry had been signed as a solo act and Johnson and Hardy became part of Berry's band. Said Johnson, "I figured we could get better jobs with Chuck running the band. He had a car and rubber wheels beat rubber heels any day."

Over the next 20 years, the two collaborated in the arrangements of many of Berry's songs including "School Days", "Carol", and "Nadine". The song "Johnny B. Goode" was reportedly a tribute to Johnson, with the title reflecting Johnson's usual behavior when he was drinking. The pianist on the "Johnny B. Goode" session was Lafayette Leake, one of the two main session pianists for Chess (the other being Otis Spann). Leake also played on "Oh Baby Doll", "Rock & Roll Music", "Reelin' and Rockin'", and "Sweet Little Sixteen".