BIOGRAPHY AND DISCOGRAPHY

 

Ostensibly a side project for Eddie Williams, the long standing bass player in the exceedingly popular cocktail blues vein with Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers. Williams, who’d been with guitarist Moore from the start in 1944, wound up taking advantage of the splintering of that group when their featured vocalist, pianist and songwriter Charles Brown, who was the star attraction, left in late 1948 over long held grievances regarding the lack of credit Moore allowed and lack of compensation, including over writing credits.

Without Brown the Three Blazers lacked their primary identity and the source of their best material and Brown quickly scored even bigger as a solo act. Williams took this opportunity to form his own group which, ironically just as Moore had done, credited himself as the leader even though he wasn’t singing and wasn’t the primary songwriter.

Yet The Brown Buddies (a ghastly offensive name, no matter that Williams himself was African-American and apparently either thought of it or approved of it) didn’t follow in the same stylistic bent as The Three Blazers had. Instead, while they could and would play some cocktail blues occasionally, they headed in more of a rock direction with the inclusion of their own distinctive pianist, vocalist and songwriter Floyd Dixon who concurrently scored with a more pure blues hit on his own, as well as then staking out his claim to a piece of the rock kingdom as a solo artist.

It was Dixon who made The Brown Buddies special, or even just notable, as his skills in all three departments, plus his stylistic versatility, meant that The Brown Buddies were capable of connecting with multiple approaches as well as drawing crowds at all types of venues catering to vastly different audiences.

The group was rounded out by Tiny Webb on guitar and Ellis Walsh on drums, the latter of whom wrote “Saturday Night Fish Fry” which the group recorded first, but did not release until after Louis Jordan covered the demo which Walsh had presented him for that purpose and got a massive #1 hit with it. Williams’s Brown Buddies however were soon riding their own #2 hit on a song that was ironically closer to The Three Blazers work than most of the rest of their output which hewed closer to rock.

Throughout this time however Williams remained with The Three Blazers as they used a variety of piano playing vocalists in a mostly failed effort to continue the success they’d enjoyed with Brown. But while that group’s records didn’t sell nearly as well as they had before they remained a good live draw and made The Brown Buddies more of a diversion for Williams rather than his primary pursuit.

Dixon left the group after a year, though in another ironic twist, he’d wind up being recruited by Williams presumably to fill the piano and vocalist role for The Three Blazers in 1952, scoring a hit with them – albeit under his own name with them credited secondarily for their supporting role. As a result Eddie Williams and His Brown Buddies are primarily remembered, if they’re remembered at all, as much for their members higher profile gigs and successes than for their own brief, but notable, success in the rock field.
 
 
EDDIE WILLIAMS & HIS BROWN BUDDIES DISCOGRAPHY (Records Reviewed To Date On Spontaneous Lunacy):

HOUSTON JUMP
(Supreme 1528; June, 1949)
A credible re-working of Amos Milburn’s smash hit “Chicken Shack Boogie” that adds nothing of note but provides the group with a foot in the door of rock ‘n’ roll, something they needed in order to establish the credentials of its members moonlighting from other styles. (5)

BLUES IN CUBA
(Supreme 1528; June, 1949)
Quirky, hypnotic, rhythmically inventive song that may be out of step with rock’s general direction but is no less winsome for it, as the band really shines behind Dixon’s accented vocal turn. (6)

RED HEAD ‘N’ CADILLAC
(Supreme 1535; August, 1949)
Rock ‘n’ roll attitude personified as the group flaunts every racial custom of 1949 as boldly as possible as Floyd Dixon boasts about his gorgeous rich red-headed mistress who buys him the most desired car in white society to drive around in… a shocking record for its time. (8)

BROKEN HEARTED
(Supreme 1535; August, 1949)
Seemingly an afterthought B-side suggesting the cocktail blues style these guys had previously played, albeit slightly more rough-edged to inch it closer to rock, and which winds up being their only hit thereby largely ending their more adventurish experiments. (3)