A vibrant singer in the early 1950’s for a variety of important labels who somehow never made the leap to star despite some solid records that remain cult favorites into the next century.

Cotton was from Atlanta, Georgia where he hooked up with Paul Gayten’s band who were in need of another singer. Through that connected he wound up being signed to Regal Records by Fred Mendlesohn and made his first records in 1950 with Gayten’s band backing him in the studio.

The vocals were rather coarse, but exuberant, and while in time he smoothed down the rough edges he never lost his predilection for musical bedlam, a distinct change for Gayten’s orchestra which tended to feature much smoother, more refined singers.

With the demise of Regal Records soon after, Cotton moved with Gayten to OKeh Records (though he recorded with Leroy Kirkland’s band while there) and later did time on Savoy and was backed by Freddie Mitchell’s band on Derby where he cut some of his most fondly remembered songs.

Though his commercial success was limited and thus is considered little more than a rather noisy also-ran, Cotton’s presence on the scene helped to balance the scales of rock stylistically and ensured that there was always someone available to take to the stage and keep the joint jumping.
SAMMY COTTON DISCOGRAPHY (Records Reviewed To Date On Spontaneous Lunacy):

(Regal 3270; June, 1950)
High-octane thrills from an over-exuberant Cotton, who gets reined in somewhat by an efficient Paul Gayten arrangement, giving Sammy just enough of a leash to convey his excitement without letting him get so far out of sight that he loses listeners who can’t keep up. (5)

(Regal 3270; June, 1950)
A nice change of pace for Cotton who still gets to bear down hard on the emotional side of the ledger while scaling back the histrionics found on more uptempo cuts, while the band adjusts nicely by keeping the mood in check with a burning sax solo to set it apart. (5)