Arthur Crudup

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Arthur Crudup
Birth name Arthur Crudup
Also known as Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup; Arthur William Crudup; Elmer Jones; Percy Lee Crudup
Born (1905-08-24)August 24, 1905
Forest, Mississippi, United States
Died March 28, 1974(1974-03-28) (aged 68)
Northampton County, Virginia, United States
Genres Blues, Delta blues, Rock and roll
Instruments Guitar, vocals
Years active 1939–1974
Labels Bluebird

Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup (August 24, 1905 – March 28, 1974) was an American Delta blues singer, songwriter and guitarist. He is best known outside blues circles for writing songs such as "That's All Right" (1946),[1] "My Baby Left Me" and "So Glad You're Mine", later covered by Elvis Presley and dozens of other artists.


Arthur Crudup was born in Forest, Mississippi. For a time he lived and worked throughout the South and Midwest as a migrant worker. He and his family returned to Mississippi in 1926. He sang gospel, then began his career as a blues singer around Clarksdale, Mississippi. As a member of the Harmonizing Four, he visited Chicago in 1939. Crudup stayed in Chicago to work as a solo musician, but barely made a living as a street singer. Record producer Lester Melrose allegedly found him while Crudup was living in a packing crate, introduced him to Tampa Red and signed him to a recording contract with RCA Victor's Bluebird label.

He recorded with RCA in the late 1940s and with Ace Records, Checker Records and Trumpet Records in the early 1950s and toured black clubs in the South, sometimes playing with Sonny Boy Williamson II and Elmore James.[2] He also recorded under the names Elmer James and Percy Lee Crudup. His songs "Mean Old 'Frisco Blues", "Who's Been Foolin' You" and "That's All Right" were popular in the South.[3] Crudup recorded "Mean Ole Frisco Blues", "Rock Me Mama", "So Glad You're Mine", "Who's Been Fooling' You", "That's All Right Mama" and "My Baby Left Me". These song were covered by many artists including Elvis Presley, Elton John and Rod Stewart.[4]

Crudup stopped recording in the 1950s, because of further battles over royalties.[3] He said "I realised I was making everybody rich, and here I was poor".[4] His last Chicago session was in 1951. His 1952-54 recording sessions for Victor were held at radio station WGST in Atlanta.[2] He returned to recording with Fire Records and Delmark Records and touring in 1965. Sometimes labeled as "The Father of Rock and Roll", he accepted this title with some bemusement.[3] Throughout this time Crudup worked as a laborer to augment the non-existent royalties and the small wages he received as a singer. Crudup returned to Mississippi after a dispute with Melrose over royalties, then went into bootlegging, and later moved to Virginia where he had lived and worked as a musician and laborer. In the early 1970s, two local Virginia activists, Celia Santiago and Margaret Carter, assisted him in an attempt to gain royalties he felt he was due, with little success.

From the mid-1960s, Crudup returned to bootlegging and working as an agricultural laborer, chiefly in Virginia, where he lived with his family including three sons and several of his own siblings. While he lived in relative poverty as a field laborer, he occasionally sang and supplied moonshine to a number of drinking establishments, including one called The Dew-Drop Inn, in Northampton County, for some time prior to his death from complications of heart disease and diabetes. In 1968, Dick Waterman began fighting for Crudup's royalties, and he reached an agreement for $60,000. However, the Hill and Range Songs company, from which he was supposed to get the royalties, refused to sign the legal papers at the last minute, because they thought they could not lose more money in legal action.[4] On a 1970 trip to the United Kingdom, he recorded "Roebuck Man" with local musicians.[3] His last professional engagements were with Bonnie Raitt.[3]

Crudup died four years after failed royalty settlement.[4] There was some confusion as to his actual date of death because of his use of several names, including those of his siblings. He died of a heart attack in the Nassawadox hospital in Northampton County, Virginia in March 1974.[5][6]

Crudup was honored with a marker on the Mississippi Blues Trail placed at Forest.[7] Elvis Presley once mentioned his importance for Rock'n'Roll by expressing his admiration by saying "If I had any ambition, it was to be as good as Arthur Crudup".[4]


Solo albums

  • Mean Ol' Frisco (1962)
  • Crudup's Mood (Delmark, 1969)
  • Look On Yonder's Wall (Delmark, 1969)
  • Roebuck Man (Sequel, 1974)

Collaborative albums


  • The Father of Rock And Roll (RCA, 1971)
  • Give Me A 32-30 (Crown Prince, 1982)
  • Star Bootlegger (Krazy Kat, 1982)
  • I'm In The Mood (Krazy Kat, 1983)
  • Crudup's Rockin' Blues (RCA, 1985)
  • Shout Sister Shout! (Bullwhip, 1987)
  • That's All Right Mama (Matchbox, 1989)
  • The Father of Rock And Roll (Blues Encore, 1992)
  • That's All Right Mama (BMG, 1992)
  • Complete Recorded Works Vol. 1-4 (Document, 1993)
  • Rock Me Mama (Orbis, 1993)
  • That's Alright Mama (Laserlight, 1995)
  • Crudup's After Hours (History, 1996)
  • The Complete Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup Vol. 1-2 (Jazz Tribune, 1997)
  • After Hours (Camden, 1997)
  • Cool Disposition (Catfish, 1999)
  • Dirt Road Blues (Past Perfect Silver Line, 2000)
  • The Essential Arthur Crudup (Document, 2001)
  • Blues Legends (Rainbow, 2002)
  • Everything's Alright (Our World, 2002)
  • Crudup's After Hours (Past Perfect Silver Line, 2002)
  • Rock Me Mama (Tomato, 2003)
  • The Father Of Rock 'n' Roll (Wolf, 2003)
  • Rock Me Mamma - When the Sun goes down Vol. 7 (RCA, 2003)
  • The Story Of The Blues (Archive Blues, 2004)
  • Too Much Competition (Passport, 2006)
  • Gonna Be Some Change (Rev-Ola, 2008)
  • My Baby Left Me - The Definitive Collection (Fantastic Voyage, 2011)
  • The Blues (Fuel, 2012)
  • Sunny Road (Delmar, 2013)

See also


  • "Do what you can do" Tampa Red told Crudup, "what you can't do, forget about it".[3]


  1. Official legal title of Crudup's 'That's All Right'
  2. 2.0 2.1 Groom, Bob, Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup, Complete Recorded Works Vol.3 (11 March 1949 to 15 January 1952) DOCD-5203, Document Records, 1993.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues - From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books Limited. p. 105. ISBN 1-85868-255-X.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Szatmary, David. 2014. Rockin' in Time. New Jersey: Pearson.
  5. - accessed November 2009
  6. Arthur Crudup at Find a Grave
  7. Mississippi Blues Commission. "Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup". Retrieved 1 February 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links