Calvin Newborn - Career

Career

He is the brother of pianist Phineas Newborn Jr. (1931–89), with whom he recorded between 1953 and 1958. They also formed an R&B band, with their father Phineas Newborn Sr. on drums and Tuff Green on bass. The group also included Willie Mitchell and Ben Branch.

The group was the house band in West Memphis, Arkansas, from 1947 until 1951 at the Plantation Inn Club. The group recorded as B. B. King's band on his first recordings in 1949, and also the Sun Records sessions in 1950.

On the 1950 recording of "B. B.'s Boogie", recorded at the Sun Studios, it was Newborn playing the lead guitar. Newborn also gave guitars lessons to Howlin' Wolf and is credited as being a big influence on Elvis Presley, who frequented the Plantation Inn Club twice a week to watch Newborn. "Elvis got swiveling his hips and wiggling his legs from me," said Newborn. Presley also used to eat at the Newborns' house and browse their music store for gospel records.

The group left West Memphis in 1951 to tour with Jackie Brenston as the "Delta Cats" in support of the record "Rocket 88". It was considered by many to be the first rock and roll record ever recorded, and was the first Billboard number one record for Chess Records.

Following this he played with Earl Hines starting in 1959. In the early 1960s, he toured with Lionel Hampton, Jimmy Forrest, Wild Bill Davis, Al Grey, and Freddie Roach, along with fellow Memphis jazz luminaries including Booker Little, George Coleman. Frank Strozier, and Louis Smith. Newborn also worked with Ray Charles, Count Basie, Hank Crawford, David "Fathead" Newman. Newborn Since the 1970s Newborn has remained mostly in Memphis, Tennessee, where he played regularly in local clubs well into the 1990s. His 1980 album Centerpiece hit No. 35 on the U.S. Billboard jazz albums chart, but much of his earlier material was not reissued on CD until 2005. He currently lives in Jacksonville, FL and continues to perform throughout Northeast Florida.

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