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Archibald (Born 14th September, 1916)

PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2012 10:47 am
by john poole
In his 1974 book "Walking in New Orleans" John Broven notes that Archibald used to "delight in telling" that he was "born Leon T. Gross in 1912 on September 14 at 12.16 a.m., just off Plum and Hillary in New Orleans" which would make today his centenary, but 1916 appears to have been his correct year of birth. He died on 8th January, 1973.

His first record, and his only hit - produced by Dave Bartholomew in 1950 - 'Stack-a-Lee (Parts I & II)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iz-qtAQPeVs
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-gLCUX13wU

'Great Big Eyes (Those Litle Reds) (1952) - written, and previously recorded by Dave Bartholomew
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPu_-2AtkkY

He didn't record after 1952, but John Broven and others visited him at home in 1970 when "it was clear that times were not exactly good" but he sat down at his battered piano and gave as good a show as one could wish for in an informal session on a wet Saturday April morning"

http://www.rockabilly.nl/references/mes ... hibald.htm
He was certainly not rockabilly ...

Re: Archibald (Born 14th September, 1916)

PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2012 12:49 pm
by Adam Blake
Great! I suspect he was the prime influence on Professor Longhair. I wonder if he ever taught him.

Re: Archibald (Born 14th September, 1916)

PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2012 1:18 pm
by Alan Balfour
"BALLIN' WITH ARCHIE"
Mike Leadbitter & John Broven
Blues Unlimited 76 October 1970 pps 9-10

Due to our tight schedule we had, only one more day in New Orleans. It was all systems 'go' on Saturday from first light (al¬most) as we set out to find the pianist, Archibald. A quick examination of "BLUES RECORDS" (an invalu¬able research weapon, despite the occasional printing errors..) reveals that the man cut 13 sides for Imperial and his last session was way back, in 1952.

He was obviously a little surprised that anybody was interested in his records which were made such a long time ago, but after a hesitant beginning he soon warmed to our enthusiasm.

Archibald was born Leon T. Gross on Septem¬ber 14 1912. At 12.16 am to be precise just off Plumb and Hilary, New Orleans! He became interested in the piano at an early age and in the late '20s and '3Os he was play¬ing at tea parties and fraternity houses in what was the obligatory style of entertain¬ment in those 'wild days' in New Orleans. In those days he was called "Archie Boy" transposed to Archibald by the course of time. He lists Burnell Santiago, the self¬-styled "King of Boogie" as his prime influence. Santiago was born in 1904 and died in 1943 and was very much a "musician's musician". He also cites Eileen Dufeau, Miss Isobel and "Stack O Lee". During the War years Archibald was drafted in the Army and can recall playing at a party in Bombay, which numbered Lady Astor (part of English aristocracy, folks) amongst the guests. His first session was for Imperial in 1950. At that time, Al Young was very active in New Orleans arranging sessions for Imperial and Dave Bartholomew's band were acting as house musicians.

In fact, Archibald cannot recall the line-up for his sessions, except that Bartholomew's band provided the accompaniment and claims that Harrison Verrett played banjo on "Stack O Lee". This became a big hit and in conjunction with Imperial, Dave Bartholomew and Fats Domino arranged a tour of the West Coast for him. It was Archibald's great misfortune to fall sick with ulcers at this precise time, and he had to drop out of the tour. He was therefore unable to capitalize on his hit record. He never had another chance. Although he had five other singles on Imperial and Colony, including the rather fine "Shake Baby Shake", they were not successes. Since then, Archibald has continued to work in and around New Orleans, on the tourist-orientated French Quarter and the numerous bars and clubs which scatter the city.

Although he has no regular work Archibald is still a member of the Union. He pays his dues and receives monthly newsletters in return. The frightening grip the Union holds over all musicians is illustrated by Archibald's story when he once over-played his allotted slot at a club to help the following act which was not ready to go on. A Union official in the audience took exception and Archibald was fined $250 for his good intentions

Now, with the help of a bottle of whiskey from Leadbitter, and, at our asking, Archibald sat down at the piano and proceeded to knock out some amazing barrelhouse piano in the good old N.O. tradition. His style is really a mixture of blues, jazz, and boogie wrapped into one, and full of improvisation. His vocals are in the Kansas City 'shouting' style and he is fond of scat singing. At our request he played "Stack O' Lee", "Blueberry Hill", "Swanee River boogie" as well as "Early Morning blues", "Pinetop's boogie woogie" (what an influential piece this was), "Muskrat ramble" and a Hadda Brooks-styled "Hungarian Rhapsody boogie". Archibald acknowledged us every so often with a glance over his shoulder and a winsome smile... even in his own home, he has tremendous 'presence' and one could easily envisage his popularity at the old fraternity house-parties in years gone by. The joint was really a-rockin' and it was a pity that we had to bring our Saturday-morning session to a close. Mrs Gross came in at the end, and told us she could tell by Archibald's actions that he really had enjoyed our visit. We left in the fervent hope that someone, somewhere will have the foresight to record Archibald once more. For, make no mistake, such an album would document an important stylistic segment of New Orleans' musical history.

Bet you never saw a photo of ARCHIBALD before? This is by John J Broven, N.O. 1970

Re: Archibald (Born 14th September, 1916)

PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2012 1:21 pm
by Alan Balfour
Alan Balfour wrote:"BALLIN' WITH ARCHIE"
Mike Leadbitter & John Broven
Blues Unlimited 76 October 1970 pps 9-10

Due to our tight schedule we had, only one more day in New Orleans. It was all systems 'go' on Saturday from first light (al¬most) as we set out to find the pianist, Archibald. A quick examination of "BLUES RECORDS" (an invaluable research weapon, despite the occasional printing errors..) reveals that the man cut 13 sides for Imperial and his last session was way back, in 1952.

He was obviously a little surprised that anybody was interested in his records which were made such a long time ago, but after a hesitant beginning he soon warmed to our enthusiasm.

Archibald was born Leon T. Gross on September 14 1912. At 12.16 am to be precise just off Plumb and Hilary, New Orleans! He became interested in the piano at an early age and in the late '20s and '3Os he was playing at tea parties and fraternity houses in what was the obligatory style of entertainment in those 'wild days' in New Orleans. In those days he was called "Archie Boy" transposed to Archibald by the course of time. He lists Burnell Santiago, the self-styled "King of Boogie" as his prime influence. Santiago was born in 1904 and died in 1943 and was very much a "musician's musician". He also cites Eileen Dufeau, Miss Isobel and "Stack O Lee". During the War years Archibald was drafted in the Army and can recall playing at a party in Bombay, which numbered Lady Astor (part of English aristocracy, folks) amongst the guests. His first session was for Imperial in 1950. At that time, Al Young was very active in New Orleans arranging sessions for Imperial and Dave Bartholomew's band were acting as house musicians.

In fact, Archibald cannot recall the line-up for his sessions, except that Bartholomew's band provided the accompaniment and claims that Harrison Verrett played banjo on "Stack O Lee". This became a big hit and in conjunction with Imperial, Dave Bartholomew and Fats Domino arranged a tour of the West Coast for him. It was Archibald's great misfortune to fall sick with ulcers at this precise time, and he had to drop out of the tour. He was therefore unable to capitalize on his hit record. He never had another chance. Although he had five other singles on Imperial and Colony, including the rather fine "Shake Baby Shake", they were not successes. Since then, Archibald has continued to work in and around New Orleans, on the tourist-orientated French Quarter and the numerous bars and clubs which scatter the city.

Although he has no regular work Archibald is still a member of the Union. He pays his dues and receives monthly newsletters in return. The frightening grip the Union holds over all musicians is illustrated by Archibald's story when he once over-played his allotted slot at a club to help the following act which was not ready to go on. A Union official in the audience took exception and Archibald was fined $250 for his good intentions

Now, with the help of a bottle of whiskey from Leadbitter, and, at our asking, Archibald sat down at the piano and proceeded to knock out some amazing barrelhouse piano in the good old N.O. tradition. His style is really a mixture of blues, jazz, and boogie wrapped into one, and full of improvisation. His vocals are in the Kansas City 'shouting' style and he is fond of scat singing. At our request he played "Stack O' Lee", "Blueberry Hill", "Swanee River boogie" as well as "Early Morning blues", "Pinetop's boogie woogie" (what an influential piece this was), "Muskrat ramble" and a Hadda Brooks-styled "Hungarian Rhapsody boogie". Archibald acknowledged us every so often with a glance over his shoulder and a winsome smile... even in his own home, he has tremendous 'presence' and one could easily envisage his popularity at the old fraternity house-parties in years gone by. The joint was really a-rockin' and it was a pity that we had to bring our Saturday-morning session to a close. Mrs Gross came in at the end, and told us she could tell by Archibald's actions that he really had enjoyed our visit. We left in the fervent hope that someone, somewhere will have the foresight to record Archibald once more. For, make no mistake, such an album would document an important stylistic segment of New Orleans' musical history.

Bet you never saw a photo of ARCHIBALD before? This is by John J Broven, N.O. 1970

Re: Archibald (Born 14th September, 1916)

PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2012 1:38 pm
by garth cartwright
Brilliant! What a pity said album was never made - or that Leadbitter did not record that Saturday morning session. I have Stack-A-Lee on various NO comps but don't think i have anything else by the man. I wonder why he was so forgotten? Adam, wasn't Tuts Washington considered to be the main influence on the Prof? I remember u had that great film Piano Players Rarely Play Together that featured Tuts, Prof and AT.

Re: Archibald (Born 14th September, 1916)

PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2012 1:50 pm
by Adam Blake
That's great, Alan, thanks again.

Tuts Washington was an early mentor of Fess's in the sense of sneaking him into bars when he was underage, but stylistically Archibald is far closer.

Re: Archibald (Born 14th September, 1916)

PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2012 3:11 pm
by Alan Balfour
Stefan Wirz knocked this together some years ago. As you can see CG was also an early Archibald reissuer, along with Bob Hite http://www.wirz.de/music/archifrm.htm

There doesn't seem to have been a CD of his complete recordings other than those on a JSP 4 CD box set. I've still got the Krazy Kat LP.

Re: Archibald (Born 14th September, 1916)

PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2012 4:42 pm
by NormanD
Alan Balfour wrote:As you can see CG was also an early Archibald reissuer, along with Bob Hite http://www.wirz.de/music/archifrm.htm


Sound of the City New Orleans - Where Rock 'n' Roll Began

Archibald - House Party Blues {Imperial unissued]
Smilin' Joe - Sleepwalking Woman
Smiley Lewis - The Bells Are Ringing
Archibald - Great Big Eyes (alt tk) {Imperial unissued]
James Wayne - Travelin' Mood
Lee Allen - Rockin' At Cosmo's
Roy Brown - Let The Four Winds Blow

Jessie Hill - Ooh Poo Pah Doo part 1
Jessie Hill - Ooh Poo Pah Doo part 2
Benny Spellman - Lipstick Traces
Barbara George - I Know
Aaron Neville - Over You
Ernie K. Doe - Waiting At The Station
The Showmen - Country Fool
Irma Thomas - Ruler Of My Heart

compiled by Charlie Gillett

This 1972 UnArt LP is a completely new one to me. I've never seen a copy anywhere. The photo on Stefan Wirz's page shows a scuffed old cover, suggesting that not many mint copies are around. Did the LP pre-date Charlie's "Honkytonk" prog on BBC London?

Re: Archibald (Born 14th September, 1916)

PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2012 7:07 pm
by Alan Balfour
NormanD wrote:This 1972 UnArt LP is a completely new one to me. I've never seen a copy anywhere. The photo on Stefan Wirz's page shows a scuffed old cover, suggesting that not many mint copies are around. Did the LP pre-date Charlie's "Honkytonk" prog on BBC London?
The "scuffed old cover" is actually the way it is designed to look. I'll have to seek out reviews to see when exactly in 1972 it was released. It got good press due to the previously unissued Archibald tracks.

Copies of the LP do turn up from time to time as Judith will bear witness - in her case the Portobello Road, May 2009.

LATER EDIT: Reviewed in Blues Unlimited 87, December 1971 page 29. So guess it was released the previous month.

Re: Archibald (Born 14th September, 1916)

PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2012 8:20 pm
by judith
Well, I'll be. I cannnot believe it. I am sitting here, holding in my hands an album Norman has not ever seen. Particularly notable due to the fact that though I have about an 18" stack of 78's of my great aunt's, I can count the number of long playing LP's in my collection on one hand. How I was able to hang on to the 78's during my youthful habit of moving frequently and none of my 33and 1/3's is beyond me. How I got this particular record I can explain.

I had always wanted to meet the man with the extensive knowledge whose posts on the forum had always fascinated me. On one of my London visits, we invited Alan to meet up at Adam's flat and Alan graciously accepted. Like minds and all that, we got along wonderfully. During the course of the afternoon, we walked down to Portobello to eat at the Indonesian cafe and stopped by, of course (ahem), Intoxica Records, and went into the downstairs room where, if I remember correctly, the classics were kept. Some of these records were extremely expensive. Adam and Alan flipped through the bins and this album, Charlie's "Sound of the City/New Orleans, Where Rock'N'Roll Began", was pulled out. It took me a moment to realize what it was and just as soon as I was getting that feeling (with which you all are familiar) of really really wanting the album, it was whisked up to the counter, paid for, and presented to me as a gift by Mr. Balfour. We yanks have a romantic notion of erudite English gentlemen and Alan certainly validated it that afternoon. It is one of my prized possessions - something of Charlie's as well as a reminder of a wonderful afternoon - and I hope I have not embarrassed you Alan by thanking you again today so publicly.

To top off a perfect afternoon, we had a beer with Jamie under the arches.

Re: Archibald (Born 14th September, 1916)

PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2012 8:57 pm
by john poole
Thank you Alan for the original report of the meeting with Archibald that John Broven had mentioned in his book. I thought that the United Artists LP was issued in connection with the UK publication of "The Sound of the City", but as the book is dated 1971 it presumably came some time afterwards. I do remember that there was a competition in the Melody Maker to win the LP when it was issued - I did not win, but did receive, over a period of weeks, two or three copies of the book (which I already owned).

Re: Archibald (Born 14th September, 1916)

PostPosted: Sat Sep 15, 2012 12:14 am
by garth cartwright
Sad news: Intoxica is closing. They currently have a sale on -= perhaps another copy of Sound Of The City awaits a good home there? Discounted too.

Re: Archibald (Born 14th September, 1916)

PostPosted: Sat Sep 15, 2012 5:29 am
by Alan Balfour
Judith, what a wonderful capacity of recall you have. The image of the three of us meeting Jamie for a beer "under the arches" may, for some, conjure up images of winos under disreputable railway arches rather those now housing trendy bars. (hee, hee)

Vis a vis that CG compilation, ironically today is the 16th anniversary of Jesse Hill's death at the age of 63.

Re: Archibald (Born 14th September, 1916)

PostPosted: Wed Sep 14, 2016 12:54 pm
by john poole
Born one hundred years ago today

'Shake Baby Shake' (1950) - the follow-up to Stack-a-Lee
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6SA7jELSsq0