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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 t he 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 Concert Cruises today announced. “Big Jay McNeely will be among the greatest Doo Wop reco rding groups that will be performing on the Oldies But Goodies Doo Wop Cruise. T hese groups were popular in the 50's and 60’s and will perform on this vary popula r Oldies But Goodies Doo Wop Cruise.” said Williams Big Jay McNeely is one of the musical pioneers of the wild, honking style of sax playing that emerged from dance halls during the late 1940 s. He has electrifie d audiences for over 60 years with his outrageous stage presence with his squawk ing, 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 for over 60 years, and he s still going strong. McNeely and his musically inclined brothers grew up in Watts, now a part of Los Angeles. Their parents had migrated in search of work from Kentucky and Tennesse e during World War I. Watts then was a melting pot and a happening place for liv e music. The McNeely s raised their family not far from the Watts Towers monumen t. His parents played piano a little and his older brother, Dillard, who later p layed bass for him. But it was other brother Bobby who played the alto saxophone who gave it to McNeely when he went into the service in World War II." Later, t hat same brother would play the alto and baritone saxophones alongside his broth er in recording sessions. While still in high school, McNeely formed his first group. He had a ten piece b and 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 wa s still learning his craft solely on the alto saxophone. Meanwhile, he worked wi th his father at the nearby Firestone rubber plant. As he honed up his skills as a musician, he dreamed of bettering his circumstances. With this in mind his pa rents allowed him to transfer from his local Jordan High School to Polytechnic H igh School downtown, where he met saxophonist Sonny Criss and Hampton Hawes (lat er becoming a famed jazz pianist). It wasn’t long before we formed a hot little co mbo. In the mid fifties, Big Jay added vocal groups to his act, beginning with Four D ots & Dash, which included, at one time or another, 16-year-old Jesse Belvin, Ma rvin Phillips later of Marvin & Johnny fame, Tony Allen and Mel Williams. In fac t, Belvin made his first recordings with Big Jay including "All That Wine Is Gon e." Big Jay also worked extensively with The Hollywood Flames, The Penguins and The Medallions up and down the West Coast. In 1955-56 he shared the stage with t he Clovers, the Harptones (at the Apollo Theater), Bill Haley and His Comets, th e Moonglows, Little Richard, and others. For the next several years, Big Jay, according to The New Rolling Stone the Ency clopedia of Rock & Roll, "famed for his playing-on-his-back acrobatics and his r aw, hard-swinging playing." During his act he d leave the stage, walk across the top of the bar, and sometimes walk out the door of the club, often with a line of people following him. Once, in San Diego, during one such "walk," he was arre sted on the street for disturbing the peace. Inside the club, his band kept play ing until someone could rush down to the police station, post Big Jay s bail, an d bring him back to finish his song.
In the early sixties Big Jay retired from full-time music. But in 1983 after ret iring with twenty years with the postal service he began a comeback when some of his early albums were reissued in the United States. He was suddenly touring ag ain, though with less fanfare, and released new albums in Europe. In 1987 he pla yed in a blues jam with B.B. King, Robert Cray, Etta James, Albert King, Junior Wells 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 Berl in 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 Somethi ng on Your Mind," featuring Haywood "Little Sonny" Warner on vocals. The record stayed on the R&B charts for six months and reached as high as 44 on the pop cha rts. The song was later a hit for Bobby Marchan. Other artists who have recorded Big Jay s song include B.B. King, Etta James, Freddy Fender, The Hollywood Flam es, Gene Vincent, Albert King and Professor Longhair. In 2000 the Experience Music Project in Seattle installed a special Big Jay McNe ely exhibit that includes his original Conn saxophone; the magazine put the horn on its June 2000 issue cover. Other items included are Jimmy Hendrix s hat, Jan is Joplin’s feather boa, and Eric Clapton s Stratocaster. Big Jay is also the subj ect of Jim Dawson s book Nervous Man Nervous. Big Jay McNeely and the Rise of th e Honking Tenor Saxophone a book written by Dawson is the only book ever written about the R&B sax and its influences. The same year Central Avenue Confidential was released to rave reviews. Wrote Bill Dahl a well known critic wrote in the All Music Guide to the Blues. "The deacon s still hopping." McNeely was given a Pioneer Award for individual achievement by the Rhythm and Blues Foundation in 2 001 These days Big Jay McNeely spends a good deal of time playing in Europe, Austral ia and Japan. Although he has find time to honk and shout at several Doo-Wop Soc iety concerts, blues and jazz festivals, the Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Festival, and the Rockin 50s fest in Green Bay. He has also recently appeared in several of Art Laboe s variety concerts. Big Jay is still tearing it up and knows how t o delight and entertain an audience of any size, from small clubs to stadium cro wds. One of the last true old school entertainers, Big Jay is still performs at select concerts, festivals and clubs. On April 10th 2011, the Oldies But Goodies cruise will leave from Los Angeles, C alifornia aboard Carnival s new ship, the Splendor on a seven-day sailing to the Mexican Riviera. You will enjoy the most Romanic and exciting ports of Puerto V allarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas. Performers include the Big Jay McNeely, Ar lene Smith’s Chantels, Johnnie and Joe, Six Teens, Pentagons, Olympics, Super Girl s Group, which features artists from the Hearts/Jaynetts, Exciters, Cookies, and Rainbows. Also appearing are the legendary Calvanes, Elgins and Vel Omarr’s Sam C ooke tribute. Be a part of this history-making event, and join us in bringing back the greates t Doo Wop recording legends of the 50 s-60’s. “There has not been an event this spec tacular featuring these sensational Doo Wop artists since those memorable days w e 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-c lass concerts of performing artists in an array of music styles aboard luxury li ners. http://www.mlccruises.com Press Contact: Grant Williams Memory Lane Concert Cruises, LLC
Los Angeles, CA 541 879 6298 email@example.com http://www.mlccruises.com
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