Skip to content

CAL GREEN

Cal GreenTexan Cal Green was a talented and versatile guitarist who started out imitating his favourite local Blues players, then got a gig playing with one of the biggest R&B acts of the 50s, co-wrote a worldwide hit, then switched to Jazz in the 60s but returned to the Blues in later life.

Cal was born in Dayton Texas in 1937 and in the early days he would copy the guitar style of his hero Clarence ‘Gatemouth’ Brown while his classmate Roy Gaines would copy T-Bone Walker as the kids would imitate the ‘cutting contests’ of Chicago club legend.

Cal was skilled enough to be asked to record some tracks with pianist Connie McBooker for the Modern label, but his big break came when Hank Ballard and the Midnighters came to town in 1954. Their guitarist Arthur Porter had just been drafted, so 17-year-old Cal stepped in. He played on all Hank’s big hits after ‘Roll With Me, Henry’ and his catchy solo lines on hits like ‘Tore Up Over You’ and ‘Open Up the Back Door’ led Duke/Federal to release Cal’s double-sided instrumental ‘Big Push’/’Green’s Blues’ and a couple of vocal tracks in 1958.

‘The Big Push’ gave Cal the chance to show off his chops;

In 1959, Hank and Cal co-wrote ‘The Twist’ after adapting an idea from a Brother Joe Wallace spiritual. The song was the B-side of Hank and The Midnighters’ single ‘Teardrops on Your Letter’, which went to No.4 in the Billboard R&B charts, but when Chubby Checker covered ‘The Twist’ the following year, it went global. By then Cal’s name had slipped from the credits, but that was not his biggest problem as he had just been busted for marijuana and was serving 21 months in jail, which put a serious crimp in his career. He re-joined the Midnighters for a while, but decided to move to LA and got into the West Coast jazz scene. He appeared on keyboard player Charles Kynard’s acclaimed ‘Professor Soul’ album of 1963 and went on to play with Jack McDuff and Lou Rawls while making a good living as a session man around the LA studios.

Cal Green Discography
White Pearl is out of print, but has recently been made available to Download. If you have a small fortune to spare, you could hunt down ‘Trippin’!

WHITE PEARL

His 1967 solo jazz album ‘Trippin’ on the Mutt and Jeff label is a vinyl collectors dream. In 1988, Cal recorded another solo album, ‘White Pearl’ for the Double Trouble label which returned to his Texas Blues roots and although his singing isn’t of star quality, his emotive and tasteful guitar work certainly is. Appearances at the Long Beach Blues Festival confirmed this, and his name popped up again when a 1967 studio composition from Cal’s ‘Trippin’ album called ‘Revolution Rap Part 2’ was sampled by hip-hop producer Madlib on his 2004 ‘Mind Fusion’ mix. Sadly it was a little late for Cal to enjoy the royalties, as he passed away in July of that year.