Arthur GunterBorn in Nashville TN in 1926, the young Arthur Gunter would hang around Ernie Young’s Record Mart store in his spare time. Ernie was to go on to start another business, forming the Excello label in 1952, as a subsidiary to the Gospel label, Nashboro. Arthur had started out singing Gospel with his brothers and cousins in The Gunter Brothers Quartet, and he later sang with various Blues bands around Nashville. When he wrote a song called ‘Baby Let’s Play House’, Arthur took it to Ernie, and the record was released in November 1954.

It was picked up by Leonard Chess on one of his scouting trips as he rambled around the South in search of talent for his label back in Chicago. Chess’s national distribution network made the record a reasonably big hit and it became Excello’s biggest selling single to date and got Arthur into the R&B charts. Elvis cut a cover version of ‘Let’s Play House’ for Sun Records in 1955, and it became a world-wide smash hit. Arthur’s first royalty check was for $6,500, which would have bought him a fleet of Cadillacs. He commented, “Elvis got that number and made it famous, but I never got the chance to shake his hand.”

Arthur’s original hit, ‘Baby, Let’s Play House’;

Arthur continued to record for Excello over the next few years, releasing half a dozen singles without generating any great sales, and those records were issued on Arthur’s only Excello album ‘Black and Blue’ in 1971. Arthur continued to play on into the 60s, but after he moved to Pontiac, Michigan in 1966, he performed only occasionally. He passed away from pneumonia ten years later.