Sunday, November 19, 2006
RIP Ruth Brown
Belatedly, I note that R&B pioneer/singer/actress Ruth Brown passed away recently at age 78. Brown's '50s recordings for Atlantic helped get that label off the ground (the label was referred to in those days as "the house that Ruth built"), and her material, ranging from belting blues to mambo mania, made Brown a major star of those days. Brown didn't fare so well after her tenure with Atlantic ended in the next decade, and she never really broke through in the soul business (although "You're a Stone Groovy Thing" is a rare soul fave). Fortunately Brown made a major comeback in the '80s, and her performance in the film Hairspray is a personal favorite. I've seen Ruth and several documentaries (including the great Lightning in a Bottle, where she ruled the stage and backstage as true Queen of R&B, and her spunk and talent, both shown in the films, will be missed. The MadPriest has a tribute mini-set on his blog, and it's certainly worth checking out.