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 Fuller Up The Dead Musician Directory 
 
Frank Otis Frost
Frank Frost
October 12, 1999
Age 63
 
Cardiac Arrest 
   
    
OBITUARY 
BIOGRAPHY  
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photo© 1998 Bob Unger

 
 
 
 

OBITUARY 
  
NY TIMES
        
 Frank Frost, 63, Who Played Delta Blues

          By NEIL STRAUSS 

               Frank Frost, one of the foremost Delta blues harmonica players of 
               his generation, died on Tuesday at his home on the street named in 
          his honor in Helena, Ark. He was 63.  

          The cause was cardiac arrest, said Otha Bush, deputy coroner of Phillips 
          County, Ark.  

          Born Frank Otis Frost in Auvergne, Ark., Frost moved to St. Louis 
          when he was 15 and began his musical career as a guitarist. He toured in 
          1954 with the drummer Sam Carr and Carr's father, Robert Nighthawk. 
          Soon after, he spent several years touring with Sonny Boy Williamson, 
          who helped teach him to play harmonica. After a hand injury, Frost 
          turned his attention to the harmonica and piano.  

          He moved with Carr to the Mississippi Delta around 1960, and after he 
          played a show with the guitarist Big Jack Johnson, they added him to 
          their group. Together they attracted the interest of the producer Sam 
          Phillips, who years earlier had overseen Elvis Presley's first recording 
          sessions. He produced "Hey Boss Man" for Phillips International in 
          1962, with blues hybrids like "Frank's Jump" showing off Frost's diverse, 
          intensely melodic harmonica solos. Presley's guitarist, Scotty Moore, 
          produced Frost's next album in Nashville.  

          In the late 70's Frost was rediscovered by a blues enthusiast, Michael 
          Frank, who began releasing albums on his Earwig label by the trio, now 
          called the Jelly Roll Kings after a song from "Hey Boss Man."  

          Cigarettes and alcohol wore Frost down over the years, but he continued 
          to record, tour and diversify his repertory, appearing in the films "Deep  
          Blues" and "Crossroads." Most recently he released an album titled "The 
          Jelly Roll Kings" with Carr on Hightone.  

          He made an appearance on Friday at the King Biscuit Blues Festival in 
          Helena, where he was brought onstage in a wheelchair during a set by 
          Carr and given a harmonica, which he had trouble playing. Carr, said one 
          of his bandmates, had tears in his eyes as he performed.  

          Frost is survived by a brother, Theo, and a sister, Francis, of St. Louis, 
          and several children. 

 
 
 
     
  FRANK FROST 

Birthdate - April 15, 1936 - Augusta, Arkansas 
Died - October 12, 1999 -  Helena, Arkansas 

We sadly send news that Blues Legend  FRANK FROST  passed away on October 12, 1999, he was 63.  Frank Frost began performing when he was a small child. The roads he traveled were long and sometimes very hard but most of them were shared with his longtime musical partner and friend Sam Carr.  In the early 60's Frank and Sam were one of the first acts Sam Philips (Sun Records) picked up for his newly formed company, Phillips International Records. They continued to 
record and perform together until 1999.  

"The Mighty King - Frank Frost" was one of the last original blues harmonica players.  He 
learned from one of the most revered harp player's in the world, Sonny Boy Williamson, of "King Biscuit Time" fame and became one of the most legendary blues harmonica players to ever perform. 

Frank was often sought out by budding young harp players as they would pass through Helena, Arkansas during the summer festival season. The question was always the same "Frank, how do you get that tone?", and Frank would touch his stomach and say "You gotta play from your stomach, not from up here" (as he pointed at his chest). 

At country Delta juke joints, concert halls in New York, nightclubs in Europe, and venues the 
world over, Frank Frost and Sam Carr spent over 40 years together playing the blues. Whether performing as just a duo, or backing blues icons like Robert Nighthawk (Sam's father) and Sonny Boy Williamson II, or in a trio with their longtime partner, Big Jack Johnson, Frank and Sam persisted to become icons in the wild, and raucous downhome blues of the Mississippi Delta. 

Frank's "Sonny Boy inspired harp playing" and "whisky-filtered-through-gravel voice" made him a popular performer wherever he played. He saw a resurgence in both his recording and performing career over the past years and performed at events all over the world.  In 1998 Frank reunited for a recording session with Sam Carr and Big Jack Johnson (Jelly Roll Kings) for "OFF YONDER WALL" on Fat Possum Records.   

Frank is best remembered for playing the harmonica on the soundtrack and appearing in the film "Crossroads" with Ralph Machio.  Frank's last performance was on Friday, October 8 at the King Biscuit Blues Festival in Helena, Arkansas.  His funeral will be held this weekend in Helena, Arkansas. 

- Michael James (AmericanLegends)

    
  Blues harmonica legend Frank Frost 
From the Blues Foundation  

The Blues Foundation is saddened to report that our friend and harmonica 
legend Frank Frost passed away last night.  Frank had battled a variety of 
health problems for the last several years, and had recently been in and out of 
the hospital. He was the truest of Bluesmen and his passing marks another 
amentable milestone in the history of the genre.  

Frank played harmonica on the sound track of the film "Crossroads".  

Helena, Ark. -- Legendary Blues Harmonica player, Frank Frost, died of 
complications of a long illness Tuesday night October 12, 1999 at his home 
on Frank Frost Street, named in his honor, in Helena, AR.  Born Frank Ottis 
Frost, on April 15, 1936 in Auvergne, AR, Frank Frost first played as an 
electric guitarist with Sam Carr and harmonica player Little Willie Foster in 
1956 and later with Sonny Boy Williamson in St. Louis from 1957-1959. 
Frank played with Sam Carr as Frank Frost and the Nighthawks until 1975. 
They reunited in 1978 to record their first Earwig record as The Jellyroll 
Kings and toured the world to critical acclaim for many years.  Frank's 
harmonica playing can be heard on motion pictures such as Crossroads and 
many others.  They had also recorded with Sun, Appaloosa and Ichiban 
Records.  Their last recording as The Jellyroll Kings was done in 1998.   
Frank's last performance was on Friday, October 8 at 
the 14th Annual King Biscuit Blues Festival.  

For the past many years, Frank's medical expenses and care had been 
supplied by Blues Aid, a non-profit organization funded by Sonny Boy Blues 
Society, twilight years.  

Donations for Frank Frost burial expenses can be sent to Blues Aid, c/o 
Helena National Bank, P. O. Box 280, Helena, AR

 
 
       
 

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BIOGRAPHY
 
 
All-Music Guide
 AKA born: Frank Otis Frost
Born:   April 15, 1936 in Auvergne, AR
 
 The atmospheric juke joint blues of Frank Frost remain steeped in unadulterated Delta funk. But his ongoing musical journey has taken him well outside his Mississippi homebase.  

 He moved to St. Louis in 1951, learning how to blow harp first from Little Willie Foster and then from the legendary Sonny Boy Williamson who took him on the road -- as a guitar player -- from 1956 to 1959. Drummer Sam Carr, a longtime Frost ally, was also part of the equation, having enticed Frost to front his combo in 1954 before hooking up with Sonny Boy.  

 Leaving Williamson's employ in 1959, Frost and Carr settled in Lula, MS. Guitarist Jack Johnson came aboard in 1962 after sitting in with the pair at the Savoy Theatre in Clarksdale. The three meshed perfectly -- enough to interest Memphis producer Sam Phillips in a short-lived back-to-the-blues campaign that same year. Hey Boss Man!, issued on Sun's Phillips International subsidiary as by Frank Frost and the Nighthawks, was a wonderful collection of uncompromising Southern blues (albeit totally out of step with the marketplace at the time).  

 Elvis Presley's ex-guitarist Scotty Moore produced Frost's next sessions in Nashville in 1966 for Jewel Records. Augmented by session bassist Chip Young, the trio's tight downhome ensemble work was once again seamless. "My Back Scratcher," Frost's takeoff on Slim Harpo's "Baby Scratch My Back," even dented the R&B charts on Shreveport-based Jewel for three weeks.  

 Chicago blues fan Michael Frank sought out Frost in 1975. He located Frost, Johnson, and Carr playing inside Johnson's Clarksdale tavern, the Black Fox. Mesmerized by their sound, Frost soon formed his own record label, Earwig, to capture their raw, charismatic brand of blues. 1979's Rockin' the Juke Joint Down, billed as by the Jelly Roll Kings (after one of the standout songs on that old Phillips International LP), showcased the trio's multi-faceted approach -- echoes of R&B, soul, even Johnny & the Hurricanes permeate their Delta-based attack.  

 In the years since, Frost has waxed his own Earwig album (1988's Midnight Prowler) and appeared on Atlantic's 1992 Deep Blues soundtrack -- an acclaimed film that reinforced the fact that blues still thrives deep in its southern birthplace. Frost returned in 1996 with Keep Yourself Together. -- Bill Dahl, All-Music Guide

 
 
  
 
 

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