Tuesday, January 08, 2013

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Milton Brown and his Musical Brownies

Artist:Milton Brown and his Musical Brownies
Song:Who's Sorry Now?
Album:Daddy of Western Swing

Bob Wills is the first name that should come up when discussing the mix of country music and jazz known as Western Swing. But Milton Brown was right beside Wills when Western Swing was created. Brown is forgotten because he died as the result of a 1936 car accident. His Musical Brownies were gaining momentum when he died. He was born Sept. 7, 1903 in Stephenville, TX and went to high school in Fort Worth. Brown lost his job as a cigar salesman when The Great Depression hit in 1929. He met Bob Wills at a 1930 Wills Fiddle Band show in Fort Worth and joined them on stage. Wills liked Brown's voice and asked Brown and his guitarist brother Derwood Brown to join. They were known as the Aladdin Laddies on radio station WBAP. Then in 1931 they were hired to be The Light Crust Doughboys by the Light Crust Flour Company. Brown left The Light Crust Doughboys in 1932 after a money dispute with band manager and radio show host W. Lee O'Daniel. Brown formed the Musical Brownies shortly after. Members were Derwood Brown on guitar, Wanna Coffman on bass, Ocie Stockard on banjo, Fred "Papa" Calhoun on piano and Cecil Brower on fiddle. They recorded for Bluebird Records in 1934. Then a key addition to the band was pedal steel guitar pioneer Bob Dunn. The band recorded for Decca Records in 1935 and 1936. By the second batch of recordings, Cliff Bruner replaced Brower. Brown sings lead on all the songs including this 1936 recording of Who's Sorry Now? Though the best known version of this song was by Connie Francis in 1958, it was first recorded by jazz band Billy Banks and his Rhythmakers in 1932. The song was written by Bert Kalmar, Harry Ruby and Ted Snyder. In April 1936, Brown fell asleep at the wheel and was in a horrific car crash. Brown may have suffered from narcolepsy. He survived the crash but a punctured lung resulted in pneumonia and he died on Apr. 18, 1936 at age 32. Derwood Brown unsuccessfully attempted to keep the band going. Fortunately you can get all of Milton Brown's Decca recordings on this 4CD box set from the British label Proper. It's a must for Western Swing fans not familiar with this forgotten music pioneer. Here's a video for Who's Sorry Now? by Milton Brown and his Musical Brownies.

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