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  Joe Tex

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Few performers could light up a crowd like Joe Tex.  This pillar of soul was born Joseph Arrington in 1933; he chose Tex as his stage name to give recognition to his Texas roots.

Like many hopeful singers of the time, Tex travelled to the Apollo Theater in hopes of receiving his break into the business.  He won their talent night in 1954 with a bucket of stage moves and tricks that would later be emulated by James Brown and was signed for a series of concerts and also signed to the King label.   None of those early singles charted.  

His first hit was the plaintive "Hold What You Got," which broke out as one of the first southern soul records to cross over to the pop charts, foreshadowing Atlantic's classic soul period.  Ironically, Tex had no idea of the song's status until he heard it on the radio while on tour. 

The song set the format for his releases: Tex's spoken testifying and commentary on relationships before launching into his earnest vocals.  He continued the template with "Buying A Book," "Don't Make Your Children Pay," and other singles. For variety, he came with the more light-hearted "You're Right Ray Charles" and "One Monkey Don't Stop No Show."  

For all his success on the soul charts, there was more than a hint of country in Joe Tex.  His frequent topics of infidelity and familiy life were common country themes, his sessions were recorded with country and soul musicians, and country music legend Buddy Killen served as his producer.

The electricity of his live act was captured on the 1967 singles "Show Me" and "Skinny Legs and All," both taking advantage of his wicked sense of humor.  He converted to the Islamic faith in the late 60s, marking a nearly three year gap between releases.

When Tex returned to the stage, he scored the biggest hit of his career with the very funky "I Gotcha." At the height of the song's popularity, he again quit the music business to focus on preaching, changing his name to Joseph Haaziz.  He found his way back to the studio in time to cut the hilarious disco tale "Ain't Gonna Bump No More With No Big Fat Woman" in 1976 a few more late 70s albums for Epic.  He died of a heart attack in 1982. 

Joe Tex's Deepest Grooves

Hold What You Got (Atlantic, 1965)

Live and Lively (Atlantic, 1968)

Skinny Legs & All (Atlantic, 1968)

From the Roots Came the Rapper (Atlantic, 1972)

I Gotcha (Dial, 1972)

Bumps and Bruises (Epic, 1977)

Golden Classics (Collectables, 1993)

Very Best of Joe Tex (Rhino, 1996)

Copyright 2001 B.Graff.  All rights reserved.

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