Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
(b 1 April '27, Houston TX; d there 3 Jan. '80) Singer, pianist, songwriter. Began in down-home style, developed smooth tavern-ballad style; worked Houston clubs, went to West Coast '46, toured in Texas/Louisiana '47-- 9, back to Coast. Recorded for Aladdin '49--53 with group Aladdin Chicken Shackers; eleven top ten R&B hits began with his own song 'Hold Me Baby', incl. two-sided 'Rooming House Boogie'/'Empty Arms Blues', 'Let's Rock A While'/'Tears, Tears, Tears'; 'Bad, Bad Whiskey' '50 was no. 1 R&B, written by tenor saxist Maxwell Davis (b 14 Jan. '16, Independence KS, d '67; played with Fletcher Henderson etc; house bandleader for Aladdin, Federal, Modern '48--54 on many R&B hits, also with Ray Anthony, Ella Mae Morse etc); it led to a series of drinking songs of which 'Let Me Go Home, Whiskey' (no. 3 '53) was one of the best: medium tempo, bass and drums slightly behind the beat, subtle guitar commentary on each phrase and smooth vocal made a believable lonesome barroom song and an R&B classic. (The composer credit 'Shifte Henri' is probably the bassist Shifty Henry credited by singer Earl Coleman in Ira Gitler's Swing To Bop with writing 'Dark Shadows', and referred to in Leiber and Stoller's lyrics to Elvis Presley's 'Jailhouse Rock'.) Milburn toured with Johnny Otis, Charles Brown; recorded for King '61, Motown late '60s but had no more hits, sometimes worked outside music, suffered stroke '70. Apollo Theatre gigs early '50s were filmed, seen in films '55--6 incl. Showtime At The Apollo. Compilation CD Down The Road Apiece on EMI; The Complete Aladdin Recordings Of Amos Milburn '94 on ten LPs/seven CDs on Mosaic is a landmark R&B reissue.