True Royalty has passed from among us...
A True Pioneer of great American music, filtered through the Rhythm & Blues medium...
I just saw this in the last couple of days on the tube and was stilled for a moment by the news... The formal announcement was sent by friend and writer Don Campbell...
Yes we need to recognize and respect where it all comes from sometimes.
Let this be a testimony to the greatness of a true spirit, lost to us this weekend.
News Release :
November 17, 2006 7:52:00 PM
Ruth Brown, the Original Queen of R&B and Royalty Reform Pioneer,
Passes at the Age of 78
LOS ANGELES, CA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- 11/17/06 -- The incomparable
Ruth Brown, whose musical legacy was matched by her fight for royalty
reform for herself and other R&B Artists, passed away on November 17,
2006 in a Las Vegas area hospital from complications following a
stroke and heart attack. Howell Begle, longtime friend and legal
representative, made the announcement for the family.
Known as "The Girl with a Tear in her Voice," "The Original Queen of
Rhythm & Blues," "Miss Rhythm & Blues," and the well-known moniker of
"Miss Rhythm," the nickname given her by Mr. Rhythm, Frankie Lane,
Ruth Brown was also credited as the first star made by Atlantic
Records. Her regal hit-making reign from 1949 to the close of the
'50s helped tremendously to establish the New York label's
predominance in the R&B field, a track record for which the young
label was referred to as "The House That Ruth Built."
Brown's two dozen hit records included the single "So Long," the
signature song of Little Miss Cornshucks, and a favorite of Atlantic
Records' Executive Herb Abramson's partner, Ahmet Ertegun, as well as
"Teardrops From My Eyes" which brought out the more swaggering,
aggressive side for which Ruth was rewarded with her first Number One
R&B hit. For the duration of the Fifties, Brown dominated the R&B
charts with such red-hot sides as "5-10-15 Hours" and "(Mama) He
Treats Your Daughter Mean."
The relationship with Atlantic Records would last until 1961. With
the onset of the turbulent '60s, musical styles changed and, like so
many R&B Pioneers, Miss Brown was left behind. Ruth was thrust into
the role of single parent raising two boys alone, forcing her to take
jobs as a maid, driving a school bus, and as a Head Start teacher.
The story might have ended there, but Brown enjoyed a career
renaissance in the mid-Seventies. She began recording blues and jazz
for a variety of labels. She toured overseas in 1979 and 1980 and
upon her return to the United States, she starred in Allen
Toussaint's off-Broadway musical "STAGGERLEE" and made a spectacular
splash in the film "HAIRSPRAY" as Motormouth Maybelle. Beginning in
1985, Ruth hosted the Harlem Hit Parade series on National Public
Radio and in 1989 won a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for
the Broadway revue "BLACK AND BLUE."
In 1989 Ruth Brown received a Grammy Award for the album "Blues On
Broadway." In 1993, she was inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Ruth was recognized in 1999 with a Lifetime Achievement Award
from The Blues Foundation, in addition to receiving two W.C. Handy
Awards from the organization. Her autobiography, "MISS RHYTHM,"
received the Ralph Gleason Award for Music. Ruth was given a Pioneer
Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation, an organization which was
founded as a direct result of her efforts to foster wider recognition
and provide financial assistance to Rhythm and Blues musicians of any
"Ruth was one of the most important and beloved figures in modern
music. You can hear her influence in everyone from Little Richard to
Etta, Aretha, Janis and divas like Christina Aguilera today. She set
the standard for sass, heartache and resilience in her life as well
as her music, and fought tirelessly for royalty reform and
recognition for the R&B pioneers who never got their due. She taught
me more than anyone about survival, heart and class. She was my dear
friend and I will miss her terribly."
- Bonnie Raitt, Friend and fellow musical Artist
"The Foundation is deeply saddened by the loss of not only our
beloved co-founder of the organization but also by what will now
become a glaring absence in the fight for Pioneer R&B Artists to
achieve recognition, dignity and support of their work. The
Foundation, its Board and Staff celebrate Ruth and her life and hope
that others will now pick up her call."
- Kendall Minter, Chairman of the Rhythm and Blues Foundation
The firstborn of seven children in a family with deep religious
roots, Ruth Weston's father worked on the docks at the seaport in
Portsmouth, VA and was choir director at Emmanuel AME Church. Ruth
is survived by her two sons, Earl Swanson and Ron Jackson, and
siblings: Leonard Weston, Delia Weston, Benjamin Weston and Alvin
The Rhythm and Blues Foundation will be planning a public memorial to
honor Ruth Brown and celebrate her contribution to Rhythm and Blues in
New York City, details to be announced at a later date.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: www.RuthBrown.net