Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
DOWNING, Big Al
(b 9 January 1940, Centralia OK) Black singer who crossed over from R&B through country, disco, pop and gospel. Raised on a farm, he sang in a gospel group with his father, two brothers and a sister. Influenced by Fats Domino, he played piano in local bands, then joined Wanda Jackson's band '58 and played sessions including 'Let's Have A Party' classic rock'n'roll hit. Moved to Boston and played regular club gigs and recorded for various labels including White Rock ('The Story Of My Life' '58), Columbia, Carlton, Lenox ('You'll Never Miss Your Water' duet pop hit with Little Esther Phillips '63), Chess ('I'll Be Holding On', a disco hit '75). Wrote songs covered by Fats Domino, then turned to country on Warner Bros. ('Mr. Jones' '78 and 'Touch Me' '79). Has since recorded for Team, Vine St. and Door Knob scoring minor country hits and toured extensively in Europe, Japan and Far East. Albums included Big Al Downing '83 on Team.