BIOGRAPHY AND DISCOGRAPHY

 


One of the more unlikely rock stars of its first decade, Rhodes brought impeccable credentials built over a twenty year career before he ever stepped foot into rock ‘n’ roll. At an age when most were thinking of retirement, Rhodes entered a new field and not only competed with artists half his age, but thrived.

Todd Rhodes was born at the dawn of the 20th century and after studying music in college he first rose to prominence in the mid-1920’s as pianist for McKinney’s Cotton Pickers, one of the more popular jazz bands of the era. By the mid-1930’s the group disbanded and Rhodes settled in Detroit as a club act for the next decade.

When rock ‘n’ roll came along in 1947 Rhodes was forty seven years old and twenty years past his first commercial peak. Signing to the small local Sensation label which only had distribution in Michigan and Ohio he cut a series of tight instrumentals with a crack band that stirred interest when they got national distribution by King Records in the summer of 1948, landing him two hits in the course of a year.

Rhodes eventually was signed to King Records directly where he not only continued issuing his own solid records but also backed numerous female vocalists who performed with his group, Kitty Stevenson, Connie Allen and LaVern Baker, as well as handling sessions for a few other artists over the years.

By the mid-1950’s he receded from the spotlight and after diabetes took a leg he retired from music and soon passed away in 1965 having briefly conquered two disparate musical genres in two distant eras.
 
 
TODD RHODES DISCOGRAPHY (Reviews To Date On Spontaneous Lunacy):
 
 
BLUES FOR THE RED BOY
(Sensation 6; November, 1947 / King 4240; July, 1948)
A tough atmospheric record that sets a vivid scene while exuding a sense of danger lurking in the grooves… rock’s first mood piece. (8)

SPORTREE’S JUMP
(Sensation 6; November, 1947 / King 4240; July, 1948)
A strong arrangement with plenty of room for each instrument to strut their stuff, all played with a cohesive purpose in mind gives notice that Rhodes is no mere club act but a viable contender for rock stardom. (6)

TODDLIN’ BOOGIE
(Sensation 4/Vitacoustic 1004; January, 1948 / King 4238; July, 1948)
Instrumental with shifting perspectives, jazzy at times but fully given over to rock by the time the interlocking horns take over down the stretch. (6)

WALKIE TALKIE
(Sensation 9/King 4252; November, 1948)
Revamping a Dinah Washington pop-rooted song for rock ‘n’ roll merely gives this mild offering a new paint job, as Louis Sanders vocal doesn’t generate enough heat, nor does the accompaniment which shows its age, as this was cut a full year before its late 1948 release. (3)

POT LIKKER
(Sensation 15/King 4287; March, 1949)
Rhodes biggest hit came with a vibrant look at a southern food staple that connected with audiences everywhere thanks to the boisterous attitude it reveled in. (7)

RED BOY AT THE MARDI GRAS
(Sensation 15/King 4287; March, 1949)
A hybrid song bringing to mind a lazy stroll at twilight through the French Quarter, evocative and well played but leaning back towards jazz rather than surging forward in rock ‘n’ roll. (4)

PAGE BOY SHUFFLE
(Sensation 16 / King 4299; June 1949)
A modest but effective rolling groove that became a hit but was more historically notable for being erroneously credited to Joe Thomas, who played sax on it, rather than Rhodes when it was re-issued on King Records. (7)