Release Date: 06/16/09
A Singer/Pianist Who Hits the Spot
The most likely date for Champion Jack's birthday is July 23, 1908 or 1909. His parents (mother Creole, father from the Belgian Congo) ran a New Orleans grocery store. One night a kerosene container exploded, setting fire to the building. His parents died in the fire, he was thrown clear. He ended up at the same Colored Waifs Home which had raised Louis Armstrong. He left the Home aged fourteen, hoping to live with a sister. That failed and he was forced onto the streets, finally shacking up with the family of a friend. With a secure base, he began singing outside the joints on Franklin and Rampart Streets, getting close to the pianists whose playing was a daily contest. He also took up boxing, fighting for $30 or $40 a bout. Towards the end of the 1920s, he set off north. Sometime in 1935 he met Leroy Carr and Scrapper Blackwell. Elements of Carr's style stayed in Jack's repertoire for the rest of his life. Boxing took him to Chicago and New York and he also took work as a musician or a cook. After losing a fight with a Bob Montgomery, he quit the ring. He developed an act, which featured him as a musician, dancer and comedian. He started to get noticed. In a trip to Chicago, while hanging out with Tampa Red, he was signed by Lester Melrose. Billed as Champion Jack Dupree, he made his recording debut on June 13, 1940. Champion Jack's first records reveal an enthusiastic and competent pianist whose lyrics instantly hit the spot, especially those dealing with gambling and the chain gang. His engaging vocal style echoed Leroy Carr. Although never highly paid, Jack established himself as part of the Blues scene in Chicago. He was drafted in 1942, and spent over two years away. During his absence, his wife died, and on return to the US, he settled in New York, where he'd made a handful of recordings while on leave. On April 3, 1945 (before the end of the war) he signed with Beacon Records for whom he recorded eight titles. He was back in the game.
|Label: Jsp Records|
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