November 17, 2006 R&B legend Ruth Brown dies.
Ahh, Ruth Brown!
I was about 23 years old, bandleader in the R&B club Sweetwaters on the west side. Each week a different R&B artist would come and do 5 nights. It was going by so fast. I was playing the current week’s show while learning the next week’s act while writing arangements and playing my own sets before and after the main show. It was a crazy great time, and I can say now that’s were I learned all my stuff. Not at Manhattan School of Music, but at Sweetwaters.
The first time Ruth Brown came in she had no charts — no written music. She came up to me and called out her song, Mama He Treats Your Daughter Mean. Now this song was a number 1 song in the 50’s but I didn’t know her or her songs. I couldn’t google her back then to find out who she was. She just started singing at me. She scared the hell out of me but I realized it was just a blues, so I relaxed and started jamming and then I’ll never forget, she said, ” Stop,stop,stop!”
And I’m like, oh shit what’d i do now?
She says, “Honey you better dig in with that left hand if you want to play with me.”
And to this day my left hand is always digging in!
Thank you, Ruth.
Here’s another one of her hits, 5-10-15 Hours.