Calvin Newborn

Listen to Calvin Newborn on Calvin's Boogie

Then there's Memphis axe grinder Calvin Newborn. The last living member of Memphis' infamous Newborn Family jazz dynasty, Calvin has never really gotten the credit he deserves. But if you want to know what I'm talkin' about just listen to his raunchy attack on BB King's vinyl debut "BB's Boogie" on the Bullet label. That's Calvin on guitar with father Finas (or Phineas) Newborn Sr. on drums and brother Phineas Jr. on piano. The family band held down the floor at Memphis' Flamingo Room every weekend (where young Calvin often beat Pee Wee Crayton in legendary after-hours "Battles of the Blues") and even hit the road as Ike Turner's band with "Rocket 88" - the hit that according to Calvin, started rock 'n roll. Ike taught Calvin how to drive - in return, Calvin taught Ike his first guitar licks. Calvin also taught Elvis Presley how to gyrate, using his own "Calvin's Boogie" as inspiration for hip-shaking. In '55, Calvin and Phineas Jr. hung up their rock 'n roll shoes and moved to New York, where they opened for Count Basie at Birdland and recorded their jazz debut for Atlantic. Calvin spent the '60s playing with Earl "Fatha" Hines, Wild Bill Davis, Mingus, Lionel Hampton, Ray Charles, and Sun Ra. After moving home to Memphis in the '70s, Calvin continued to work with hometown hero, Hank Crawford, taught Jazz Studies at LeMoyne-Owen College, toured Europe with the Broadway musical "Bubbling Brown Sugar", and wrote a tribute to his late brother called "As Quiet As It's Kept THe Genius of Phineas Newborn, Jr." Calvin Newborn writes and performs to this day, working with what he calls "omnifarous music" (music of all kinds, sorts, and types). And the story goes on...

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