R&B, Blues, Soul & Stax

VOICES Notes and news on R&B, Blues, Soul & Stax releases

Unsung Hero

08 NOV 08 DAVID NATHAN

Percy Mayfield may not be well-known to most record buyers but check the credits of albums by artists as diverse as Elvis Presley and The Rolling Stones' Bill Wyman and you'll find his name. Or you could just check out the 14-track Specialty Profiles: Percy Mayfield.

The Louisiana-born songwriter and recording artist was responsible for a handful of contemporary music classics, including the oft-recorded "Please Send Me Someone To Love." A 1950 No. 1 R&B hit in for Percy, the song has been covered by dozens of artists including B.B. King, Diane Schuur, The Animals, Peggy Lee, Dinah Washington, Esther Phillips, The Moonglows, Irma Thomas and even Pat Boone.

Percy's original version is the centerpiece of Specialty Profiles, which also includes "Lost Love (Baby, Please)," "The River's Invitation" (cut by such luminaries as Aretha Franklin and Joe Cocker) and a 1960 demo for "Hit The Road, Jack" which became a massive hit for Ray Charles in '63.

Charles was a major champion for Mayfield, recording a good half-a-dozen of Percy's songs including "Stranger In My Own Home Town" and "Two Years Of Torture" as well as signing Percy to his Tangerine Records' label for whom Mayfield cut two memorable albums in the '60s.

Percy's career as a recording artist was somewhat limited. He preferred to avoid the limelight, letting others shine. He certainly fulfilled on that aim through songwriting, although the CD reveals he also possessed a distinctive, bluesy vocal style that was endearingly soulful.