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My Baby Left Me
Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup
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Aurthur "Big Boy" Crudup
and the Stolen Songs
Arthur Crudup performs at his home in Virginia in 1972.
Arthur Crudup was born in Forest, Mississippi, United States. For a time he lived and worked throughout the South and Midwest as a migrant worker. He and his family returned to Mississippi in 1926. He sang gospel, then began his career as a blues singer around Clarksdale, Mississippi. As a member of the Harmonizing Four, he visited Chicago in 1939. Crudup stayed in Chicago to work as a solo musician, but barely made a living as a street singer. Record producer Lester Melrose allegedly found him while he was living in a packing crate, introduced him to Tampa Red and signed him to a recording contract with RCA Victor's Bluebird label.
He recorded with RCA in the late 1940s and with Ace Records, Checker Records and Trumpet Records in the early 1950s and toured throughout the country, specifically black establishments in the South, with Sonny Boy Williamson II and Elmore James (around 1948). He also recorded under the names Elmer James and Percy Lee Crudup. He was popular in the South with records such as "Mean Old 'Frisco Blues", "Who's Been Foolin' You" and "That's All Right".
Arthur Crudup stopped recording in the 1950s, because of further battles over royalties. His last Chicago session was in 1951. His 1952-54 recording sessions for Victor were held at radio station WGST in Atlanta, Georgia. He returned to recording with Fire Records and Delmark Records and touring in 1965. Sometimes labeled as "The Father of Rock and Roll", he accepted this title with some bemusement. Un-gratified due to the loss of royalties, he would refer to his admirer Presley as 'Elvin Preston'. Throughout this time Crudup worked as a laborer to augment the non-existent royalties and the small wages he received as a singer.
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