Big Al Downing was born on this day 75 years ago in Oklahoma. He may not be the most recognizable name in American music today, but Downing had 15 hits on the country Billboard charts in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Has was also inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame (his first recording was as pianist on Wanda Jackson's "Lets Have a Party") and he was named Billboard New Artist of the Year in 1979 (a strange accolade since he had been releasing singles since the late 1950s). He was a skilled songwriter and a captivating live performer with dedicated fans.
These days Downing is viewed by record nerds as sort of a "Bo Jackson" of the music world, meaning he was as proficient in the world of soul music as he was in country. He is one of two artists I can play regularly at both my soul dance parties and my country dance parties (the other being Ray Charles of course). That's a pretty special thing.
While Big Al recorded some excellent rock n roll, R&B and soul records, in the mid- 1970s he decided to focus solely on his first love of country music. From the Big Al Downing website: He told the Boston Herald in 1998, "I grew up in Oklahoma hauling hay, riding horses and doing all the things country folk do. So how can anyone say Country music is white?"
Like Stoney Edwards (who I featured a couple of weeks ago) Big Al Downing is not as well-remembered as he should be. So, lets rectify that on this 75th anniversary of his birth, I ask you to raise a mug of beer in memory of Big Al Downing and listen to this song while you're doing it.
DJ Action Slacks
I'm excited to highlight some of my favorite records in a variety of genres (soul, R&B, classic country, rockabilly, oldies, garage rock, etc). These won't all necessarily be "dance" records per se. They will all be records that I believe deserve a special listen. I simply love good music, rare or not. Hopefully you will spend some time here and love music right along with me! Lets give this a shot!