BIOGRAPHY AND DISCOGRAPHY

 


One of the most important all-around talents of rock’s first fifteen years, succeeding in a variety of ways, from songwriter, bandleader to producer and A&R head of various record labels as well as being a highly regarded pianist, singer and hit-making artist in his own right.

Paul Gayten was born in 1920 in New Orleans where 27 years later he lit the fuse that soon sparked rock ‘n’ roll, as his own ballad “True” became a national hit on the DeLuxe label that summer, as did “Since I Fell For You” by Annie Laurie who was backed by Gayten both on stage and in the studio. The success of those records (though neither one was close to rock styles) encouraged DeLuxe to sign more New Orleans artists when the opportunity presented itself, namely with Roy Brown whose “Good Rocking Tonight” late that summer launched rock ‘n’ roll.

But it was almost Gayten who did so first, as the flip side to “True” had been a rocking song called “Your Hands Ain’t Clean” that more than hinted at what was around the corner musically.

Though proficient in other styles, Gayten went on to release his most influential and popular records in the rock realm, as well as continuing to back Laurie, who achieved notable success as a rock artist herself over the years. Soon another of the artists he championed, Larry Darnell, became a star in his own right cutting songs written and backed by Gayten.

Gayten’s versatility made him invaluable to the various labels he recorded for over the years, among them Regal, OKeh and Chess, the latter of whom made him an A&R chief, a rare position for a black man in the 1950’s. He’s credited with discovering or nurturing a number of fairly prominent artists, among them Clarence “Frogman” Henry and Bobby Charles, writing some classic sides and playing on a multitude of hit records by other acts.

His own records were selling less by this point, but among them were a handful of instrumentals that remain highly valued among rock aficionados. By the early 1960’s he’d moved to Los Angeles and continued working for Chess but eventually started his own small label and gradually faded from the scene.

Of all of the early jack-of-all-trades in rock, Gayten may be least remembered, but his impact was incredibly diverse. He died in 1991 at the age of 71.
 
 
PAUL GAYTEN DISCOGRAPHY (Reviews To Date On Spontaneous Lunacy):
 
 
I STILL LOVE YOU
(DeLuxe 1006; November, 1947)
As sideman… for Annie Laurie

PETER BLUE AND JASPER TOO
(DeLuxe 1118; December, 1947)
An addicting sounding song with Gayten’s choppy piano and a stinging guitar adding immeasurably to the feel, but frustratingly lacking a coherent story to pull it all together and make it truly transcendent. (6)

IN THE EVENING WHEN THE SUN GOES DOWN
(DeLuxe 1118; December, 1947)
A notable re-working of the uptown blues song by Leroy Carr finds Gayten subtly embellishing the melody by virtue of a modern arrangement, in the process shifting the mood from downbeat to optimistic, a defining difference in attitude between blues and rock. (6)

ONE SWEET LETTER FROM YOU
(DeLuxe 1131; January, 1948)
As sideman… behind Annie Laurie.

HEY LITTLE GIRL
(DeLuxe 1138; January, 1948)
A decidedly funky song made more famous down the road by Professor Longhair, but written and performed first by Gayten whose piano shines, while his laid back demeanor vocally is captivating enough but also lacks the urgency the song calls out for. (6)

STOP
(DeLuxe 1176; June, 1948)
Deliberately quirky, but effectively amusing with its stop/start structure, spoken verses and sung chorus and some extended piano playing with nice guitar accents to off-set it, this shows Gayten stretching out creatively even if the style was too odd to connect with listeners. (7)

SALLY LOU
(DeLuxe 1176; June, 1948)
Though it retains a few too many of the unusual aspects of the arrangement from the superior top side of the record, this manages to distance itself just enough with a more typical song structure and good playing and singing to make it a enjoyable. (5)

VOODOO MAN
(DeLuxe 3173; June, 1948)
As sideman… behind Annie Laurie.

WONDERING BLUES
(DeLuxe 3173; June, 1948)
As sideman… behind Annie Laurie. One of the most sparse, fragile, but alluring arrangements out there shows Gayten, who also wrote this, knew what he was doing. (8)

WOMEN THESE DAYS
(DeLuxe 3177; July, 1948)
A sparse, evocative, haunting record seems more like an apparition than a fully formed song, it’s noncommercial in every way but stands as a tribute to Gayten’s creativity and quest for stylistic diversity and will stick with you long after it ends. (6)

BACK TRACKIN’
(DeLuxe 3177; July, 1948)
Quirky instrumental featuring Gayten’s piano and Jack Scott’s guitar trading off sounds like a dry-run through the song more than a finished product, something which became all the more apparent when Gayten re-cut it a year later on Regal with a much fuller arrangement. (4)

LONELY BLUES
(DeLuxe 3192; October, 1948)
As sideman… behind Annie Laurie.

HIP SHAKIN’ MAMA
(DeLuxe 3199; November, 1948)
As sideman… behind Chubby Newsom.

CHUBBY’S CONFESSION
(DeLuxe 3199; November, 1948)
As sideman… behind Chubby Newsom.

DONT WORRY ‘BOUT NOTHIN’
(DeLuxe 3200; December, 1948)
As sideman… behind Eddie Gorman

BACK BITIN’ WOMAN
(DeLuxe 3204; January, 1949)
As sideman… behind Chubby Newsom.

BEDROOM BLUES
(DeLuxe 3204; January, 1949)
As sideman… behind Chubby Newsom.

TELEPHONE BLUES
(DeLuxe 3209; February, 1949)
As sideman… behind Eddie Gorman

BEEF BALL BABY
(DeLuxe 3209; February, 1949)
As sideman… behind Eddie Gorman

GAYTEN’S NIGHTMARE
(DeLuxe 3210; February, 1949)
A good idea that never gets fleshed out, its attempts at creating an atmospheric horror tableau is creatively stillborn as the accompanying music are aimless piano and sax riffs without a home from which to return. (3)

ANNIE’S BLUES
(DeLuxe 3211; March, 1949)
As sideman… behind Annie Laurie.

CREOLE GAL
(DeLuxe 3215; April, 1949)
Far more effective for the vivid storyline and Gayten’s evocative singing than for the arrangement which leans too heavily on generic horn charts at the expense of local flavor. (5)

DR. DADDY-O (BACKTRACKIN’)
(Regal 3230; July, 1949)
Decidedly funky instrumental is a drastic re-working of an earlier cut by Gayten, this time with an arrangement highlighted by stellar turns from Gayten’s piano, Lee Allen’s sax and Robert Green’s drums, very idiosyncratic but lots of fun all the same. (7)

YOUNG BOY
(Coleman 118; August, 1949)
As sideman… behind Mr. Google Eyes.

POPPA STOPPA’S BE BOP BLUES
(Coleman 118; August, 1949)
As sideman… behind Mr. Google Eyes.

FISHTAIL
(Regal 3234; September, 1949)
Unappetizing dish in which none of the parts fit together and many barely fit in rock, resulting in a confusing and directionless record. (2)

CUTTIN’ OUT
(Regal 3235; September, 1949)
As sideman… behind Annie Laurie.

MY ROUGH AND READY MAN
(Regal 3235; September, 1949)
As sideman… behind Annie Laurie.