Very few guitarists are credited with changing the sound of popular music, but Mickey Baker’s work on countless hit singles in the 50s incorporated the essence of R&B, as he added his hot riffs and turnarounds to some of the most iconic records of the day. His intelligent Jazz/Blues guitar was heard high in the mix on the crossover Rock’n’Roll hits that helped to de-segregate music on the radio, and eventually in the whole country. Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley were big solo stars who were at the fore-front of this process, but Mickey Baker’s contribution was perhaps just as great.
The sublime ‘South of France Blues’ recorded for TV with the Coleman Hawkins Quintet
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[stextbox id=”custom” caption=”Mickey Baker Discography” float=”true” align=”left” width=”300″]This 28 track compilation has a taste of Mickey’s work with Sylvia, alongside some fantastic, groundbreaking instrumentals from the 50s.
ROCK WITH A SOCK
[/stextbox]Around 1964, Mickey decided to relocate to Paris, perhaps inspired by Bluesmen like Memphis Slim and Champion Jack Dupree, who had found a warm welcome, a different place in society and plenty of professional opportunities across the pond. Mickey was again demand as a session player, especially with French rock singer Ronnie Bird, and his superb guitar technique made it easy to find club gigs all over the continent, and although he didn’t record much after the 60s, he continued to play regularly. Eric Bibb, the renowned Piedmont guitarist with a Gospel/Blues voice, was encouraged by Mickey’s example to stay in Paris and explore the thriving club scene. Mickey passed away at the age of 89 at his home near Toulouse in 2012.