26.3.06

Happy Birthday, Rufus Thomas

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March 26, 1917

Rufus, solo and with Carla, would release a string of popular songs over the following years for Stax. Among the songs that would reach prominence were favorites such as "Walking The Dog" (1964) and "Do The Funky Chicken" (1969). The latter spawned a whole series of novelty dance songs named for "funky" animals.

Rufus Thomas was always an outspoken ambassador for Memphis and the music that originated there. When promoters in Chicago attempted to claim their city as the birthplace of the Blues, Thomas was first to step up and deny the statement. Over the years, he has appeared in numerous documentaries on the history of Blues and Rock music, Sun Records and Stax Records and Memphis in general. He also had a small role in the movie, "Mystery Train," filmed in Memphis.

In January,1992, he was honored by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, named as an "Early Influence". At the ceremonies he performed onstage, singing "Dust My Broom" backed by a band which included Jimmy Page, Neil Young, The Isley Brothers, Johnny Cash, Keith Richards and John Fogerty. That same year, he saw recognition by The Rhythm and Blues Foundation's Pioneer Awards; he was a featured performer at the 1996 Olympic Games. The City of Memphis also honored Thomas with a portion of a street along Beale Street being renamed in his honor.

Do the Funky Chicken...

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