Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
(b Napoleon Culp, 12 October 1929, Charlotte NC; d there 20 September 2008) An R&B singer with a deep rough voice whose style was influential. He would add nonsense syllables and pronounce words eccentrically in order to accent the rhythm, as in 'Well Well Well Baby-La' in 1955.
He began with local gospel groups; moved to New Jersey and signed with Savoy Records for 25 singles 1955-61: 'Don't Be Angry' was a no. 2 R&B hit and a pop top 40 in '55 (covered by the Crew Cuts, who took it to the pop top 15). 'Pitter Patter' '56 (also known as 'Piddily Patter Patter', and covered by Patti Page) and 'It Don't Hurt No More' '58 were top 10 R&B and made the pop Hot 100; 'I Cried Like A Baby' '61 was his last R&B chart entry. '(Night Time Is) The Right Time' did not make the R&B Top 40 in '57, but Ray Charles took it to no. 5 two years later. Most of the hits were written by Rose Marie McCoy. He resumed recording in 1969 after a spell in prison; in the early 1970s he sang with the Bell Jubilee Singers on the Jewel label. A career revival began around the time he toured England in 1986.
He had made an album with Atlanta's Tinsley Ellis and the Heartfixers, Tore Up, on Landslide '84 (later reissued on Alligator), followed by Something's Gonna Jump Out Of The Bushes! (And Grab You!) on Blacktop '87 and two albums for Ichiban '90-1. In 1993, on Bob Margolin's first Alligator album, Down In The Alley, Nappy sang the title song and the classic 'Worried Life Blues' accompanied only by Margolin's guitar. In 2007 he sang on PBS radio's Prairie Home Companion and made his last album, Long Time Coming on Blind Pig, produced by guitarist Scott Cable, which was nominated for two Blues Music Awards.