Sometimes known as ‘The Godfather of R&B’, Roy Milton’s big 1946 crossover hit ‘RM Blues’ was the first post-WWII success for the fledgeling Specialty label. It set the tone of good-time party music that was to dominate radio, juke-boxes and the charts for the next decade, and was the first of a long string of hits for Roy. A great singer, band leader and drummer, Roy was still releasing records in the 70s.
Roy Milton was born in 1907 in Wynnewood OK, and was brought up on a American-Indian reservation, with his heritage in The Chickasaw Nation. Roy played brass in his school band but in 1931, when he became a professional musician with Ernie Fields’ Royal Entertainers in Tulsa, it was as a singer. Their drummer got arrested just before a gig one night, so Roy stepped in and showed he could swing like crazy. Relocating to the West-coast
a couple of years later, he formed his own band, The Solid Senders, playing a stripped down swing music all over California. They cut ‘Milton’s Boogie’ which Roy distributed on his own label, then in 1945, cut some tracks for Lionel Hampton’s Hamp-Tone Records. Later the same year, they were signed by Art Rupe
for his Juke Box label, shortly before it became Specialty Records, and Roy’s first release ‘RM Blues’ shot to No.2 in the Billboard R&B charts and made No.20 in the pop charts.
Typical Solid Senders hit from 1951;
Roy’s hot drumming and feel for horn arrangements made The Solid Senders a popular touring act for the next ten years, as the Jump-Blues craze filled dancehalls all over the country. During that time they released over 40 singles, and 19 of them made the Top Ten, some with a vocal contribution from Camille Howard. When he left Specialty in 1955, Roy’s music was somewhat lost in the backwash of Rock’n’Roll, but the next decade saw him release 16 more singles.
Roy Milton Discography
This 14 track collection distils the essence of Roy’s swinging take on the Blues. Excellent FREE Specialty sampler too!
In the late 60s, Roy teamed up with Johnny Otis
and played in his Revue at the 1970 Monterey Jazz Festival. In the next few years, Roy recorded albums for Kent Records and Black & Blue, as he continued to front his own band and make occasional guest appearances with Johnny Otis. As his 70s approached, Roy retired gracefully, and he passed away in Los Angeles in 1983.