Born Rudolph Spencer Green, 30 September 1926, Lake Charles, Louisiana
Singer / songwriter / guitarist.
Rudy Green (also spelled Greene on the label of some of his recordings) is not exactly a household name. Rock n roll fans may know him from his two wildest songs, "Juicy Fruit" and "Wild Life", which have been included on several compilations that claim to offer "frantic", "red hot" or "screaming" R&R.
According to singer Bobby Hebb (of "Sunny" fame), it was a well-known fact around Nashville that Rudy was one of Little Richard's best friends in the mid-1950s. Hebb even claims that Richard's classic line "Tutti Frutti, Oh Rudy!" was written in Mr. Green's honour ...
Only two photographs have ever been published of Green, one of which shows him picking with the guitar behind his head, a stunt for which T-Bone Walker was well known. The guitar playing on Green's recordings shows him to be an ardent disciple of T-Bone. Rudy made his first, unremarkable recordings in Nashville, for Jim Bulleit's Bullet label in 1946. Three singles were released in 1946-47, two with a jazzy rhythm trio (guitar, bass, piano), the third one ("Buzzard Pie"/"Florida Blues") in Louis Jordan style, with a small horn-led jump band. It wasn't until six years later, in 1952, that Rudy got the chance to record again, for the Chance label out of Chicago, for which he also did some session work. Accompanied by King Kolax and his band, eight titles were laid down for Chance, six of which have been issued on three singles in 1953-54, a mix of slow blues and jump blues rockers. Apparently Rudy also cut three tracks at an RCA session in December 1953 where he played guitar behind Bobby Prince, but these recordings have yet to show up. Green was continuously employed in the Chicago area clubs during 1954 and the first half of 1955. In March 1955 he made his final recordings in Chicago, for Jimmie Davis's Club 51 label. The A-side of the resulting single, "Highway No. 1", was sung in a wailing Roy Brown style, backed by a band based around tenor sax man Eddie Chamblee.
Rudy then returned to Nashville, where he was signed by Ernie Young, owner of the Excello label. Two excellent singles resulted from his 1956 affiliation with that label. "My Mumblin' Baby" (Excello 2074) stands in a long tradition of speech impediment R&B tunes, such as "Tongue Tied Blues" and "Harelip Blues" by Champion Jack Dupree, "Mumbles Blues" by Bobby Lewis and "Sputtterin' Blues" by Walter Robinson. "Teeny Weeny Baby" (Excello 2090) is also a fine rocker, as you can hear on YouTube.
December 1956 found Rudy in New York City cutting two wild black rock n roll singles for Al Silver's Ember label. By this time, Rudy had upgraded his T-Bone guitar sound to emulate more contemporary heroes like Mickey Baker with some devastatingly powerful fretwork. The first Ember 45 paired the torrid "Juicy Fruit" with the Nappy Brown inspired "You're the One For Me" (Ember 1012, February 1957), followed by the release of the much rarer "Wild Life" (described by Dave Penny as "almost unhinged"), coupled with the gentler blues ballad "Lonesome" in July 1957 (Ember 1020). Unfortunately, promotional neglect on Ember's part killed the commercial chances of these two great singles. Green's last known record was made sometime in the late 1950s (belatedly issued in 1961) for Ted Jarrett's Poncello label in Nashville, "Oh Baby"/"Hurry Hurry". An attempt at a more contemporary southern soul style, which sank without trace. Rudy Green disappeared into obscurity and died in Florida in 1976, aged only 50.
Thanks to Carlos Diaz and his El Toro label, Rudy's recordings have finally been reissued, after a first attempt by Jonas Bernholm in the late 1980s had to be aborted. That LP was co-compiled by Dave Penny, who also wrote the sleeve notes back then. The album was mastered, but never released. The birth and death dates shown above differ from the dates given by Dave Penny in his liner notes for the El Toro release and were supplied by Eric LeBlanc, who is an expert on birth and death statistics. We're assuming Lake Charles as his place of birth as per his entry in the 1930 Census.
CD : Rudy Green, Wild Life (El Toro R&B 115). 27 tracks, the A and B sides of his twelve released singles, plus three tracks featuring Rudy as a session guitarist. Annotated by Dave Penny. Released 2010. El Toro also released a 16-trackvinyl LP in the same year.
Acknowledgements : Dave Penny, Eugene Chadbourne (All Music Guide), Blues Records 1943 to 1970, Vol. 1 (page 485-486), Eric LeBlanc.
Discography : http://koti.mbnet.fi/wdd/rudygreen.htm
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