Chanteur US né Joseph E. Baugh le 25 Juillet 1932 à Helena (Arkansas). Joe Baugh fut pianiste et covocaliste des "Snearly Ranch Boys" du batteur Clyde Leoppard. Au milieu des années cinquante, Joe a enregistré à la Sun Records de Memphis (Tennessee) où il n'eut aucun succès. Pourtant Sam Phillips, le directeur de la Sun, avait avec Joe Baugh, un blanc qui chantait comme un noir. Mais la musique de cet écliptique artiste était trop policée pour devenir commerciale. Chanteur aux intonations rugueuses parfois proche de Louis Prima. Joe Baugh, en tout, nous a laissé que deux singles chez Sun Records. Dans les années 1970, il se produisait à Waco (Texas), avec les "Midnite Cowboys" et Buddy Holobaugh. Smokey Joe Baugh est décédé le 19 Novembre 1999 à Monterey (Californie)

One of the more shadowy figures at Sun, Smokey Joe Baugh was around the Memphis music scene from an early stage. Born in Helena, AK, he embarked on a musical career in 1947 working as a pianist in Memphis and West Memphis. Around 1952 he joined the Shelby Follin Band, and for a few months he and bandmate Paul Burlison performed with Howlin' Wolf on radio KWEM in West Memphis, Arkansas.
Subsequently he joined Clyde Leoppard's Snearly Ranch Boys, with whom he recorded, appeared on local radio and toured with many of the Sun package tours. The record they made for Sam Phillips was "Split Personality"/"Lonely Sweetheart" (Flip 502), released in the spring of 1955. On the A-side, credit goes to "Bill Taylor & Smokey Jo" (in capitals), "Clyde Leoppard's Snearly Ranch Boys" (in smaller print). Baugh had a gravelly voice which was the result of a natural condition, rather than a conscious attempt to sound black. He cut four sessions for Sun as Smokey Joe in 1955-56 and had one single released, "The Signifying Monkey"/"Listen To Me Baby" (Sun 228, also released as Flip 228). "The Signifying Monkey" was recorded on August 25, 1955, and its lyrics have a long history in black music. In fact, the story is such a central part of black culture that an entire book has been written on the subject : "The Signifying Monkey : A Theory of African-American Literary Criticism", by Henry Louis Gates (New York : Oxford University Press, 1989). (For a review of the book see: ). Hundreds of versions of the song have been recorded, among them a version by Chuck Berry, "Jo Jo Gunne" (Chess 1709, 1958). With Johnny Bernero on drums, Smokey Joe's "Signifying Monkey" was assured of a fine shuffle rhythm, and it enjoyed some local chart action after its release in mid-September 1955. Sales were strongest in black markets that had no idea Smokey Joe was very blond and very white. This confusion reached its zenith when Joe was invited to perform at New York's Apollo Theatre in Harlem. The flipside "Listen To Me Baby" is a solid outing in the jump blues mode (with a powerful piano solo) that did little to dispel the notion that Smokey Joe was black. Surprisingly, "The Signifying Monkey"/"Listen To Me Baby" was reissued on Sun 393 in May 1964. Two factors might have led Sun to dust it off. First Sam the Sham had recorded it (this was pre-Woolly Bully, but it was a local hit) and second, it had a prototypical ska beat, popularized at that time by Millie Small's "My Boy Lollipop".
Other songs recorded at Sun were "She's A Woman" (three versions), "Hula Bop" (two versions, recorded at the same session as "Signifying Monkey"), "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere" and two songs that are still unissued, "Only You" and "Tell It Like It Is". "Hula Bop" - the first Hawaiian bop record, predating Buddy Knox by a couple of years - was not released by Phillips at the time, and Jimmy Knight, a member of the Snearly Ranch Boys, profited by recording a version of it on Crystal in 1956. There is also a mysterious 45 by Baugh on the Fonovox label, "Perfect Girl'/"Start All Over Again".
As a session pianist, Baugh can be heard on the tracks from the first Barbara Pittman session from April 1956 (I Need A Man, Sentimental Fool, No Matter Who's To Blame).
In the sixties, Baugh worked extensively with the Bill Black Combo and in 1970 started up a country band called the Midnite Cowboys with Buddy Holobaugh in Waco, Texas. Colin Escott writes: "Smokey was a pillhead and a prolific drinker, and eventually left Memphis for Texas when he owed everyone he knew." (Liner notes for "That'll Flat Git It, Vol. 14.)

Talents : Vocals, Guitar, Piano

Style musical : Rockabilly, Rock 'n' Roll


The Signifying Monkey (1955)

HULA BOP (1955) (unissued)

SHE'S A WOMAN (1955) (unissued)

Start All Over Again (1956)

Years in activity :

1910 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 2000 10 20


78 t. & Singles

03/1955 78 t. & SP FLIP 502 (US)

Split Personality  (Bill Taylor & Smokey Joe / Clyde Leoppard's Snearly Ranch Boys) / Lonely Sweetheart (Bill Taylor / Clyde Leoppard's Snearly Ranch Boys)

09/1955 78 t. & SP FLIP 228 (US) SMOKEY JOE / Clyde LEOPPARD BAND - Listen To Me Baby / The Signifying Monkey
09/1955 78 t. & SP SUN 228 (US) SMOKEY JOE - Listen To Me Baby / The Signifying Monkey
1956 SP FONOVOX 45-100 (US) SMOKEY JOE - Perfect Girl / Start All Over Again
05/1964 SP SUN 393 (US) SMOKEY JOE - Listen To Me Baby / The Signifying Monkey

Unissued Tracks

1955 SUN unissued - (Bear Family CD 16210 (#6) / Blues Interactions LP 336 (#9) / Charly CD 8277 (#12) / El Toro CD 1011 (#12) / Sun (England) LP 1021 (#1)) SMOKEY JOE - Hula Bop [vers. 1]
1955 SUN unissued - (Charly LP 30116 (#4)) SMOKEY JOE - Hula Bop [vers. 2]
1955 SUN unissued - (Blues Interactions LP 336 (#10) / Sun (England) LP 1021 (#7)) SMOKEY JOE - The Midnight Ride Of Paul Revere
1955 SUN unissued - (Blues Interactions LP 336 (#11) / Charly CD 8318 (#4) / SAAR CD [RR1] (#14) / Sun (England) LP 1021 (#8)) SMOKEY JOE - She's A Woman [vers. 1]
1955 SUN unissued - (Charly LP 30116 (#3)) SMOKEY JOE - She's A Woman [vers. 2]
1955 SUN unissued SMOKEY JOE - She's A Woman [vers. 3]

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