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Junior Parker

Junior Parker was one of the premier singers of his time and had a considerable following on the black club circuit, but in working and recording almost exclusively for that market, he remained virtually invisible to the new blues audience of the ‘60’s. The versatile Parker may have been tagged as a blues artist, but was equally at home across the R&B spectrum, and even covered some early soul.

Herman Parker Jr. was born in West Memphis, Arkansas on March 27, 1932, to a farming family situated near enough to West Memphis for Little Junior (who had started singing in church) to involve himself in the local music scene at an early age. His biggest influence in the early days was Sonny Boy “Rice Miller” Williamson, in whose band Parker worked for some time before moving on to work for Howlin' Wolf, later assuming the leadership of the latter's backing band. He was a member of the ad hoc group the Beale Streeters, with Bobby Bland and B.B. King, prior to forming his own band, the Blue Flames, in 1951, which included the well-regarded guitarist Auburn “Pat” Hare.

Parker's first, fairly primitive, recordings were made for Joe Bihari and Ike Turner in 1952 for the Modern Records label. This brought him to the attention of Sam Phillips and Sun Records, where Parker enjoyed some success with his recordings of “Feeling Good”, although the period is better recalled for the downbeat “Mystery Train”, which was later covered by the young Elvis Presley.

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