Jazz Music

Bill Doggett - The Guitar Greats

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Published by Admin in Jazz Musicians


Three classic Bill Doggett cuts, featuring two of his best guitar-playing sidemen - Billy Butler and Bill Jennings.
The first two ("Honey Boy," and "Oof,") feature Billy Butler. The third, "Big Boy," features Bill Jennings.
In 1956, as teenagers scrambled to purchase the years hottest instrumental few realized that Doggett's contribution within the framework of the recording was obscured by the guitar and saxophone. Doggett didn't even play the bass or drums, that can be clearly heard by the discerning ear. Doggett played the Hammond organ.
In a field dominated by performers around twenty, Doggett was almost twice that when he and his combo came up with the tune he is remembered for "Honky Tonk."
Bill DoggettWilliam Ballard Doggett was born February 16, 1916, on the north side of Philadelphia. At age nine, Doggett was attracted to the trumpet, but his family could not afford one. Bill's mother, Wynona, was a church pianist and his inspiration. Within a few years, he switched to the piano and was hailed as a child prodigy by the time he was thirteen. At fifteen, he formed his first combo, the Five Majors. While attending Central High School, he found work playing in the pit orchestra at the Nixon Grand theater with the Jimmy Gorman Band.
Doggett later sold his band to Lucky Millinder, and worked during the 1930s and early 1940s for both Millinder and arranger Jimmy Mundy. In 1942 he was hired as The Ink Spots' pianist and arranger.
Toward the end of 1947, he replaced Wild Bill Davis as the pianist for Louis Jordan's Tympany Five. It was in Jordan's group that he first achieved success playing the Hammond organ. In 1950 he is reputed to have written one of Jordan's biggest hits, "Saturday Night Fish Fry", for which Jordan claimed the writing credit.
In 1951, Doggett organized his own trio and began recording for King Records. His best known recording is "Honky Tonk", a rhythm and blues hit of 1956 which sold four million copies (reaching No. 1 R&B and No. 2 Pop), and which he co-wrote with Billy Butler. The track topped the US Billboard R&B chart for over two months.[2] He won the Cash Box award for best rhythm and blues performer in 1957, 1958, and 1959. He also arranged for many bandleaders and performers, including Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, and Lionel Hampton.

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