The stage name for Edward White whose career kicked off his career with a Top Ten hit his first time out and then never approached that success thereafter.

Born in 1918 in Philadelphia his family moved to California in 1922 and he studied music in school but hadn’t thought of becoming a professional musician until he was working in dry cleaning and was heard singing by his co-workers who encouraged him to give it a shot. He then impressed the owner of a night club when he sang at a talent show held there and the club owner offered him a steady job as a performer, which he turned down, still not convinced he could make it. When the bandleader offered to work with him to polish his performing skills he relented and was soon earning a living singing under the name The Great Gates (Gates being his middle name).

Signing with the newly established Selective label in 1949 he got his one and only hit right off the bat with “Late After Hours”. Though a its success was especially noteworthy considering Gates’ own inexperience, as well as that of the teenaged band behind him (including future notable Marvin Phillips on sax), not to mention the inexperience of the company which issued it, he never was able to build off that early shot at fame.

In the years to come he bounced from one label to another, releasing records under his full given name as well as his performing moniker, always able to keep his career afloat yet never becoming a star as it briefly appeared he might be able to do when starting out.

By the late 1950’s he’d opened a nightclub and having difficulty with finding and keeping a pianist to anchor the proceedings he learned the instrument himself and would go on to record as an organist in the early 1960’s with one album he released entitled The Man On The Moon Ed Gates On Organ, which gave him another nickname which he’d continued to use thereafter as strictly a club performer.

Gates was still active locally around Los Angeles until the mid-1980’s and died in 1992 at the age of 74.

THE GREAT GATES DISCOGRAPHY (Records Reviewed To Date On Spontaneous Lunacy):

(Rex 28025; April, 1949)
An explosive declaration of intent by Gates and the band, one of whom – the anonymous guitarist – shows he has already figured out the sounds of tomorrow and it all comes together with blistering intensity while the lyrics provide the blueprint for the entire genre. (8)

(Selective 103; June, 1949)
Creative and somewhat radical re-working of the jazz standard “After Hours”, with Gates’ added lyrics which he delivers in alternately subdued and rambunctious fashion backed by some occasionally raucous playing. (6)

(Selective 108; October, 1949)
A good theme to tackle and featuring some really good backing by the musicians, but the lyrics and Gates’s vocal delivery causes this horse to come up lame down the stretch and finish out of the money. (4)

(4 Star 1475; May, 1950)
A generic song without much lyrical depth has its flaws exacerbated by off-kilter drunken horns which dominate the sparse arrangement, something alleviated only by a very nice, though far too brief, guitar interlude. (3)

(4 Star 1504; July, 1950)
Sort of a textbook rock song for the day with all of the standard components – from the title and brash and somewhat crude lyrics to the solid sax and guitar lending support – present and accounted for, none of it exceeding expectations but nothing letting you down either. (6)

(Recorded In Hollywood 199; March, 1952)
A wild free-for-all of an instrumental, not even featuring vocalist Gates at all, in which Marvin Phillips blows up a storm while drummer Earl Brown bashes his kit with vengeance as the others do all they can to spur them on… hardly pretty, mostly crude yet very effective. (6)

(Recorded In Hollywood 199; March, 1952)
Though his own contributions are rather limited, just a very straightforward vocal that doesn’t add much excitement – or information – but the band again makes up for it with some robust sax work and a steady rhythm that makes for a reasonably rousing time. (5)