Ivory Joe Hunter (his full given name) was playing piano and developing his velvet voice around Beaumont Texas when he was recorded as a teenager for the Library of Congress in 1933. When he moved to Oakland CA. in 1942, he set up his own Ivory Records and his ‘Blues at Sunrise’ was a national hit in 1945. That label folded, but he set up Pacific Records and promptly went to No.1 in the R&B charts for three weeks with ‘Pretty Mama Blues’. When the impressive 6ft 4 singer signed for King Records in 1949, he repeated the chart-topping trick with ‘I Almost Lost My Mind’ and then scored again with ‘I Need You So’ for RCA Victor. Ivory Joe was a regular visitor to the upper reaches of the R&B charts in the early 50s on a variety of labels with his smooth West-coast Blues ballads, and when he signed for Atlantic in 1956, he took ‘Since I Met You, Baby’ to No.12 the Billboard Hot 100. Many of Ivory Joe’s compositions were taken into the pop charts by Elvis, Pat Boone and many others.
As musical tastes changed he moved to Nashville and became a successful country songwriter, even making an appearance at the Grand Ole Opry, and also playing at the Montreux Jazz Festival. Ivory Joe explored his Blues roots with his 1970 album ‘The Return of Ivory Joe’ which was well received, but he was soon diagnosed with lung cancer and had to stop performing.