Saturday, November 02, 2013

Bobby Parker RIP

Sorry to hear of the death of Lafayette-born blues man Bobby Parker, at the age of 76, whose guitar intro to his 1961 hit Watch Your Step is one of the most influential in pop history. The song was covered by Spencer Davis, Dr Feelgood and Santana among others and was the basis for the Beatles intro on I Feel Fine. Jimmy Page was also much influenced by the riff on the record.
Despite this record, and a lengthy period playing with Otis Williams and the Charms and backing artists such as Bo Diddley, Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson, Clyde McPhatter and the Everly Brothers, Bobby didn't make the big time. He had a single released on Blue Horizon in 1969 - It's Hard But It's Fair - but his career never really took off, and it wasn't until 1993 that he recorded his first album - Bent Out Of Shape - for Black Top records, with a second album, Shine Me Up, following two years later. I saw Bobby perform on the annual Black Top show at Jimmy's in New Orleans in 1993 (see photo above) when he was billed as 'Mr Bent Out Of Shape' and, although impressed overall by his guitar playing and singing, was disappointed that the one number he didn't play was Watch Your Step. Later he played at the Blues Estafette in Utrecht and was scheduled to perform at this year's Ponderosa Stomp, but dropped out.
Watch Your Step was not a hit when it was released in the UK on London in 1961, nor when it came out a second time on Sue in 1964, so both are collectable today (see photos below). The B side on both is the slow blues Steal Your Heart Away.


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