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