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Big Jay McNeely Rocks the Boat on Doo Wop Cruise

Big Jay McNeely Rocks the Boat on Doo Wop Cruise

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Published by David Johnson
Big Jay McNeely can blew up a torrid R&B tornado from every conceivable position on his knees, on his back, being wheeled down the street on an auto mechanic's "creeper" like a modern-day pied piper. As one of the titans who made tenor sax the solo instrument of choice during rock's primordial era, McNeely could peel the paper right off the walls with his sheets of squealing, honking horn riffs.
Big Jay McNeely can blew up a torrid R&B tornado from every conceivable position on his knees, on his back, being wheeled down the street on an auto mechanic's "creeper" like a modern-day pied piper. As one of the titans who made tenor sax the solo instrument of choice during rock's primordial era, McNeely could peel the paper right off the walls with his sheets of squealing, honking horn riffs.

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Published by: David Johnson on Sep 14, 2010
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Big Jay McNeely Rocks the Boat on Doo Wop CruiseBig Jay McNeely can blew up a torrid R&B tornado from every conceivable positionon his knees, on his back, being wheeled down the street on an auto mechanic's"creeper" like a modern-day pied piper. As one of the titans who made tenor saxthe solo instrument of choice during rock's primordial era, McNeely could peel the paper right off the walls with his sheets of squealing, honking horn riffs.Los Angeles, CA, September 14, 2010 -- Grant Williams CEO of Memory Lane ConcertCruises today announced. “Big Jay McNeely will be among the greatest Doo Wop recording groups that will be performing on the Oldies But Goodies Doo Wop Cruise. These groups were popular in the 50's and 60
’s and will perform on this vary popular Oldies But Goodies Doo Wop Cruise.” said WilliamsBig Jay McNeely is one of the musical pioneers of the wild, honking style of saxplaying that emerged from dance halls during the late 1940
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s. He has electrified audiences for over 60 years with his outrageous stage presence with his squawking, honking playing style that has earned him the nicknames "Big Jay McSquealy," "The Deacon of Tenor Sax," and "King of the Honkers.” Big Jay is best known for"Deacon
 
s Hop" Tenor saxophonist Cecil "Big Jay" McNeely has been performing forover 60 years, and he
 
s still going strong.McNeely and his musically inclined brothers grew up in Watts, now a part of LosAngeles. Their parents had migrated in search of work from Kentucky and Tennessee during World War I. Watts then was a melting pot and a happening place for live music. The McNeely
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s raised their family not far from the Watts Towers monument. His parents played piano a little and his older brother, Dillard, who later played bass for him. But it was other brother Bobby who played the alto saxophonewho gave it to McNeely when he went into the service in World War II." Later, that same brother would play the alto and baritone saxophones alongside his brother in recording sessions.While still in high school, McNeely formed his first group. He had a ten piece band of mixed kids who’d play at small events like dances. They call themselves the‘Earls of 44” after pianist Earl ‘Fatha’ Hines, who was popular at the time. McNeely was still learning his craft solely on the alto saxophone. Meanwhile, he worked with his father at the nearby Firestone rubber plant. As he honed up his skills asa musician, he dreamed of bettering his circumstances. With this in mind his parents allowed him to transfer from his local Jordan High School to Polytechnic High School downtown, where he met saxophonist Sonny Criss and Hampton Hawes (later becoming a famed jazz pianist). It wasn’t long before we formed a hot little combo.In the mid fifties, Big Jay added vocal groups to his act, beginning with Four Dots & Dash, which included, at one time or another, 16-year-old Jesse Belvin, Marvin Phillips later of Marvin & Johnny fame, Tony Allen and Mel Williams. In fact, Belvin made his first recordings with Big Jay including "All That Wine Is Gone." Big Jay also worked extensively with The Hollywood Flames, The Penguins andThe Medallions up and down the West Coast. In 1955-56 he shared the stage with the Clovers, the Harptones (at the Apollo Theater), Bill Haley and His Comets, the Moonglows, Little Richard, and others.For the next several years, Big Jay, according to The New Rolling Stone the Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll, "famed for his playing-on-his-back acrobatics and his raw, hard-swinging playing." During his act he
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d leave the stage, walk across thetop of the bar, and sometimes walk out the door of the club, often with a lineof people following him. Once, in San Diego, during one such "walk," he was arrested on the street for disturbing the peace. Inside the club, his band kept playing until someone could rush down to the police station, post Big Jay
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s bail, and bring him back to finish his song.
 
In the early sixties Big Jay retired from full-time music. But in 1983 after retiring with twenty years with the postal service he began a comeback when some ofhis early albums were reissued in the United States. He was suddenly touring again, though with less fanfare, and released new albums in Europe. In 1987 he played in a blues jam with B.B. King, Robert Cray, Etta James, Albert King, JuniorWells and others on the internationally televised Grammy Awards. Two years later, he was honking outside the Quasimodo Club in West Berlin on the night the Berlin Wall came down and the German press jokingly called him "the modern Joshua."After the rumor went around the Big Jay helped blow it down with his horn.In 1959 Big Jay enjoyed his biggest hit, a blues ballad called "There Is Something on Your Mind," featuring Haywood "Little Sonny" Warner on vocals. The recordstayed on the R&B charts for six months and reached as high as 44 on the pop charts. The song was later a hit for Bobby Marchan. Other artists who have recordedBig Jay
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s song include B.B. King, Etta James, Freddy Fender, The Hollywood Flames, Gene Vincent, Albert King and Professor Longhair.In 2000 the Experience Music Project in Seattle installed a special Big Jay McNeely exhibit that includes his original Conn saxophone; the magazine put the hornon its June 2000 issue cover. Other items included are Jimmy Hendrix
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s hat, Janis Joplin’s feather boa, and Eric Clapton
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s Stratocaster. Big Jay is also the subject of Jim Dawson
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s book Nervous Man Nervous. Big Jay McNeely and the Rise of the Honking Tenor Saxophone a book written by Dawson is the only book ever writtenabout the R&B sax and its influences. The same year Central Avenue Confidentialwas released to rave reviews. Wrote Bill Dahl a well known critic wrote in theAll Music Guide to the Blues. "The deacon
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s still hopping." McNeely was given aPioneer Award for individual achievement by the Rhythm and Blues Foundation in 2001These days Big Jay McNeely spends a good deal of time playing in Europe, Australia and Japan. Although he has find time to honk and shout at several Doo-Wop Society concerts, blues and jazz festivals, the Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Festival,and the Rockin
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50s fest in Green Bay. He has also recently appeared in severalof Art Laboe
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s variety concerts. Big Jay is still tearing it up and knows how to delight and entertain an audience of any size, from small clubs to stadium crowds. One of the last true old school entertainers, Big Jay is still performs atselect concerts, festivals and clubs.On April 10th 2011, the Oldies But Goodies cruise will leave from Los Angeles, California aboard Carnival
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s new ship, the Splendor on a seven-day sailing to theMexican Riviera. You will enjoy the most Romanic and exciting ports of Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas. Performers include the Big Jay McNeely, Arlene Smith’s Chantels, Johnnie and Joe, Six Teens, Pentagons, Olympics, Super Girls Group, which features artists from the Hearts/Jaynetts, Exciters, Cookies, andRainbows. Also appearing are the legendary Calvanes, Elgins and Vel Omarr’s Sam Cooke tribute.Be a part of this history-making event, and join us in bringing back the greatest Doo Wop recording legends of the 50
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s-60’s. “There has not been an event this spectacular featuring these sensational Doo Wop artists since those memorable days we spent at the Brooklyn Fox Theater and El Monte Legion Stadium.” said Williams.Memory Lane Concert Cruises is musical theme cruise operator that offers world-class concerts of performing artists in an array of music styles aboard luxury liners. http://www.mlccruises.comPress Contact:Grant WilliamsMemory Lane Concert Cruises, LLC

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