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 Fuller Up The Dead Musician Directory 
 
     Tommy Ridgley 
     Tommy Ridgley 
      August 11, 1999 
      Age 73   
 
Lung Cancer       
    
    
OBITUARY 
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OBITUARY 
        
       
 
 
 
     
  NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Vocalist Tommy Ridgley, a veteran performer from the  
golden age of New Orleans rhythm and blues, died Wednesday of lung cancer. He  
was 73.  

Though Ridgley never had a national hit, his more than 70 recordings have  
endured around the globe. He was a fixture in the city's nightclubs and at  
private functions for 50 years, and has been featured at the New Orleans Jazz  
and Heritage Festival since 1972.  

Ridgley signed with Decca Records in 1952 and produced ``Tra-La-La'' which was  
later covered by Pat Boone.  

He also recorded over the years for Atlantic Records, where he was billed as  
``The New King of the Stroll.''  

In 1965, Ridgley released an acclaimed comeback album, ``Since the Blues  
Began,'' on Rounder Records.  Last year Ridgley announced plans for a new CD,  
and remained optimistic about performing even after he was diagnosed with  
lung cancer. 

    
            Today, August 11, 1999, the world has experienced a tremendous loss with the 
             passing of Thomas Herman Ridgley, better known as Tommy Ridgley. 

             Loved by everyone, Tommy Ridgley was a friend to all. We will miss his great 
             musical talent, his heartfelt laugh, his warm personality, and his positive attitude. A 
             band leader and performer for over half a century, Tommy Ridgley, made a huge 
             mark in the Rhythm & Blues world.  

             There is an endless number of musicians and fans whose lives were touched by this 
             outstanding performer. 

             Tommy Ridgley will be sadly missed. He was truly a good person and a real 
             gentleman. Memorial services are being arranged and will be announced when 
             finalized.  

             Sincerely,  
             Earline Hutchison

 
NY TIMES
        
 
 
 
 
       
 

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BIOGRAPHY
 
 
All-Music Guide
 
                   Tommy Ridgley was on the Crescent City R&B scene when it first 
                    caught fire, and he remains a proud part of that same scene 
                    today. That's a lot of years behind a microphone, but Ridgley 
                    doesn't sound the slightest bit tired; his 1995 Black Top album 
                    Since the Blues Began rates with his liveliest outings to date. 

                    Ridgley cut his debut sides back in 1949 for Imperial under Dave 
                    Bartholomew's direction. His "Shrewsbury Blues" and "Boogie 
                    Woogie Mama" failed to break outside of his hometown, though. 
                    Sessions for Decca in 1950 and Imperial in 1952 (where he 
                    waxed the wild "Looped") preceded four 1953-55 sessions for 
                    Atlantic that included a blistering instrumental, "Jam Up," that 
                    sported no actual Ridgley involvement but sold relatively well 
                    under his name (incomparable tenor saxist Lee Allen was 
                    prominent). 

                    New York's Herald Records was Ridgley's home during the late 
                    '50s. The consistently solid singer waxed "When I Meet My Girl" 
                    for the firm in 1957, encoring with a catchy "Baby Do-Liddle." 
                    From there, it was on to his hometown-based Ric logo, where he 
                    laid down the stunning stroll-tempoed "Let's Try and Talk It 
                    Over" and a bluesy "Should I Ever Love Again" in 1960. He 
                    recorded intermittently after leaving Ric in 1963, waxing a soulful 
                    "I'm Not the Same Person" in 1969 for Ronn.  

                    Ridgley always remained a hometown favorite even when 
                    recording opportunities proved scarce. Happily, Since the Blues 
                    Began ranked with 1995's best albums, Ridgley sounding entirely 
                    contemporary but retaining his defining Crescent City R&B edge. 
                    How Long appeared in 1999. ~ Bill Dahl, All-Music Guide


From TommyRidgley.Com
    
Now 50 years in the music business, TOMMY RIDGLEY, is considered the Master of Rhythm & Blues. As one of the great and enduring Rhythm & Blues artists in New Orleans, TOMMY RIDGLEY has stood the test of time with more than 70 recordings since 1949.
TOMMY RIDGLEY is a very friendly, humble man with a wealth of good stories and very strong
opinions. 

TOMMY RIDGLEY'S roots, like so many other Rhythm & Blues artists, started in the church choir.  Also being the offspring of a musicial family, he had the ability to sing. At age 17, he joined the Navy.  During this time he developed an interest in learning to play the piano. In 1946, after World War II, he returned to New Orleans and studied music. Influenced by Roy Brown, a New Orleans' resident and one of the biggest Rhythm & Blues artists nationally, Ridgley began developing his own style. Being a much sought after performer, Ridgley began
performing at The Dew Drop Inn, a New Orleans' most popular black live music venue. 

TOMMY RIDGLEY'S recording break came in October 1949 with the release of "Shrewsbury Blues," and "Early Dawn Boogie," on Imperial Records with Dave Bartholomew's band. In 1952, TOMMY RIDGLEY signed with Decca Records which produced "TraLaLa," a Tommy Ridgley song covered by Pat Boone. 

Soon after, Ridgley signed to Atlantic Records, where he enjoyed a four year association with Jerry Wexler. There were consistent moderate selling recordings, but no national hit.

Over the next years, Ridgley recorded for Herald Records, Ric & Ron Records where he was billed as the New Orleans' King of the Stroll. Joe Ruffiino wanted to make a stroll record in reference to a popular dance of that era. (Similar to Chuck Willis.)

In 1957, THE UNTOUCHABLES, were formed. TOMMY RIDGLEY and his band, THE UNTOUCHABLES, were much respected and got most of the best gigs in the area. Ridgley was firmly established during the late 1960's at the New Orleans' Municipal Auditorium as a resident bandleader with a hot-cookin' band, backing such greats as Little Richard, Solomon Burke, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Little Willie John, and the opening band for James Brown.

The turning point for Ridgley's career came with the Beatles. That was the big change in music. Tommy Ridgley's performances at college campuses and concerts turned to private clubs and older audiences. 

It wasn't until the 1970's that New Orleans' Rhythm & Blues was revived with interests by the New Orleans' Jazz & Heritage Festival and other local festivals. TOMMY RIDGLEY continued recording, performing festivals, nationally and internationally.  There were reissues on Rounder Records, with new singles on local labels such as Sound of New Orleans, TuDor (Ridgley's own label) and DuBat.

In 1990, "How Long," appeared on Sound of New Orleans label. In 1992, "She Turns Me On," appeared on Modern Blues label. In 1995, "Since The Blues Began," appeared on BlackTop label.

It was after Ridgley's recording in 1995, he developed kidney failure. After a lengthy recovery he began performing again. In May 1998, Ridgley recieved a kidney transplant. Now after a complete recovery, he is working, but taking it a little easier.  Ridgley still does the Jazz & Heritage Festival every year since 1972, the French Quarter Festival, The House of Blues where  he and his band opened for The Blues Brothers. Ridgley can be found at some of the local clubs and most of the local festivals.
 

  Discography compiled by Offbeat Magazine
     

     Shrewsbury Blues (Imperial, 1949) 

     This was Ridgley’s recording debut and a tribute to the neighborhood he grew up in ("just two miles from town").       "That record came out before Fats’ first record ["The Fatman"], said Ridgley. "That puts my career in perspective." 

     Tra-La-La (Decca, 1952) 

     This was later covered by the Griffin Brothers and provided the inspiration for Big Joe Turner’s 1954 hit  "Ti-Ra-Lee." 

     Jam Up (Atlantic, 1955) 

     Although Ridgley’s only contribution to this rousing instrumental was yelling the title during the into, it nearly became a national hit. The song has appeared on several oldies packages and Ken Burns used it on the soundtrack of his baseball documentary during the Mickey Mantle segment. 

     When I Meet My Girl (Herald, 1957) 

     A big local record for Ridgley, the tune has a Scottish beat (if such a thing exists). It helped Ridgley get on the college circuit. 

     Should I Ever Love Again (Ric, 1960) 

     All of Ridgley’s Ric sides were excellent examples of New Orleans R&B, but this track is among the best. A cover of an obscure Wynona Carr song, Ridgley’s impromptu intro sells his version. 

     I Want Some Money Baby (Johen, 1964) 

     New Orleans meets Motown on this rare single. A big band and great vocals make this one. 

     Fly In My Pie (International City, 1968) 

     Recorded for New Orleans deejay Bobby Robin’s short lived label, in collector circles this single can fetch $200 (much more than Ridgley made from the session). Never reissued, it was a northern soul hit in the UK. 

     I’m Not The Same Person (Ronn, 1970) 

     This was the B-side of the remake of "When I Meet My Girl." Ridgley does an outstanding cover of a Johnnie Taylor LP track and dramatically out-souls the "Soul Philosopher." 

     I Can’t Wait Any Longer (Hep’ Me, 1978) 

     Several New Orleans hit-makers from the 1960s made their way to Senator Jones’ label in the 70s, including Ridgley. This is an outstanding Wardell Quezergue production which became Ridgley’s last local radio hit. 

 
 
  
 
 

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