Little Junior Parker
b. Herman Parker Jnr., 3 March 1927, West Memphis, Arkansas, USA, d. 18 November 1971, Blue Island, Illinois, USA. Despite his later fame some confusion still exists regarding the parents and date and place of birth of Little Junior Parker. Clarksdale, Mississippi and 1932 are sometimes quoted and his parents names are given in combinations of Herman Snr., Willie, Jeanetta or Jeremeter. It is certain is that they were a farming family situated near enough to West Memphis for Little Junior, (who had started singing in church) to involve himself in the local music scene at an early age. His biggest influence in those early days was Sonny Boy Williamson in whose band Junior worked for a while before moving on to work for Howlin' Wolf, before assuming the leadership of the latter's backing band. He was a member of the ad hoc group, the Beale Streeters, with Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland and B.B. King, prior to forming his own band, the Blue Flames in 1951, which included the well regarded guitarist Auburn ‘Pat’ Hare. His first, fairly primitive, recordings were made for Joe Bihari and Ike Turner in 1952 for the Modern label. This brought him to the attention of Sam Phillips and Sun Records where Junior enjoyed some success with his recordings of Feeling Good although the period is better recalled for the doomy Mystery Train, which was later taken up by the young Elvis Presley. His greatest fame on record stemmed from his work on Don Robey's Duke label operating out of Houston, Texas, and it was along with fellow Duke artist Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland that Little Junior headed the highly successful Blues Consolidated Revue which became a staple part of the southern blues circuit. His tenure with Robey lasted until the mid-'60s with his work moving progressively away from his hard blues base. In his later, days Parker appeared on such labels as Mercury, United Artists and Capitol, enjoying intermittent chart success with Driving Wheel (1961), Annie Get Your Yo-Yo (1962) and Man Or Mouse (1966). His premature death in 1971 occurred while he was undergoing surgery for a brain tumour and robbed R&B of one of its most influential figures.
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