Friday, March 9, 2012

Joe Tex

Joseph Arrington,Jr. , born August  8,1933,  in Baytown, Texas, was the possessor of a perfectly suitable name, all things considered. Fortunately for us all, he realized early in his chosen career that a truly proper show biz name was needed...something along the lines of, well, Joe Tex. His professional career began when he won first place in a talent show at the famed Apollo Theatre, an accomplishment that led to a record deal with King Records, the label of James Brown. The early going was rocky,to say the least. His releases on King and later on the Ace and Anna labels were disappointing sales-wise, and were generally considered derivative and uninspired. He released 30 singles in the first ten years without once hitting the top 100. After labelmate James Brown scored a hit with a cover of Tex's "Baby You're Right", sending it to #2 in 1962, Tex signed to Nashville, Tennessee-based Dial Records by producer Buddy Killen where his fortunes changed dramatically.
Under Killen's guidance, Tex recorded his first hit in 1965 at Fame Studio in Muscle Shoals,  Alabama. It was distributed by Atlantic Records on Killen's Dial label, spent 11 weeks in the Hot 100, peaking at #5 and sold a million copies by 1966. It was a hauntingly beautiful ballad titled "Hold On To What You Got".

Two more ballads followed, "A Woman Can Change A Man" and "The Love You Save ( May Be Your Own )" with neither matching the success of his first hit. Tex would begin to release more uptempo songs with favorable results such as 1966's  "S.Y.S.L.J.F.M. ( The Letter Song) " and the often-covered 1967 classic "Show Me".

Tex's career was distinguished in one respect by the extensive number of single releases. In 1965 alone he released seven singles, six singles in 1967 and five in 1968. In fact, Tex had released close to thirty singles prior to the release of his first album in 1965. His next major hit came in 1967 with the release of "Skinny Legs And All" which spent 15 weeks on the charts getting to #10 and selling a million copies.

"Skinny Legs And All" along with another hit, "Men Are Getting Scarce" were included on a partially live album titled Live And Lively which was awarded a gold disc by the Recording Industry Association Of America ( RIAA ) in August of  1968. His last major hit of the period was "I Gotcha", a Tex composition released in 1972. It spent 20 weeks on the charts, two of those weeks at the #2 spot, selling two million copies by August of that year. Following its release Tex decided to retire.

Returning to music in 1975, Tex had a comeback hit with "I Ain't Gonna Bump No More ( With No Big Fat Woman ). This song got to #12 in the U.S. charts. By the 1980s He had again retired from performing full-time to devote his time to his Texas ranch and
the Islam faith he had converted to in 1966. He changed his name to Yusuf Hazziez and began touring as a spiritual lecturer.
On August 13, 1982 Joe Tex succumbed to a fatal heart attack at his home in Navasota,Texas just five days after his 49th birthday.
Joe Tex and his trademark combination of good-natured humour and flawless funk would go on to inspire many.

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