- The Imperial Show Band
Tim Whitsett's Imperial Show Band was a popular national live act in the 1960s. They are generally regarded as the first integrated band in the state of Mississippi.
Jackson, MS, native Whitsett's first record "Jive Harp" b/w "Pipe Dreams" was released on Imperial Recordswhen he was sixteen-years-old. Heavily influenced by the sounds of nearby New Orleans, Tim Whitsett & The Imperials (coincidentally) became the hottest band in their home state of Mississippi, and released dozens of R&B, Pop, and Instrumental records, usually written by Whitsett or co-written with his brother Carson, which were issued on a variety of labels, including Epic, Whitsett's own Rim, and the legendary Jackson based Ace, whose president Johnny Vincentwas a sort of mentor on how to (or how not to) function in the music business for the teenage Whitsett. Some of these were sizable local hits throughout the South and became very popular when piratedin England. These " 45s" are now considered collectables, and Tim Whitsettrecords sell for very high prices on sites like eBay.
On the strength of
Carson Whitsett's B-3 organ playing and the Tim Whitsettled horn section, the group was asked to record for Stax Records(before there was a Booker T. & the MGsand "Green Onions") long before the company was a powerhouse and later, Chips Momanasked the group to be his house bandwhen he started his American Recording Studio. Tim Whitsettturned down both offers because he had his own label (Rim), publishing company (Gulfway), and the band was having their own success. Moman would hire now legendary session men like guitarist Reggie Youngand record everyone from Wilson Pickettto Neil Diamondto Elvis Presley.
Whitsett changed the group's name to The Imperial Show Band, and the group began a successful tour of the country, which included stints in L.A., Lake Tahoe, New York, and a home away from home in
Erie, Pennsylvania. With the addition of future Southern Soulcult figure Tommy Tateon vocals (and later drums as well), they became Tim Whitsett & The Imperial Show Band featuring Tommy Tate.
This was significant because other than Memphis's renowned
Booker T. & the MGs(who were a house bandfirst, usually regulated to working days and nights in the Staxstudio), this made Whitsett's band one of the first, if not the only, integrated bands in the entire Southeastarn United States at the time. Like a lot of white Southern musicians, the Whitsett brothers and their group were hugely influenced by two landmark albums: James Brown's "Live at the Apollo" and Bobby "Blue" Bland's "Two Steps From the Blues". ( Carson Whitsettwould later play on several Bland albums, including his great "Live on Beale Street".) With the addition of Tate, they were more authentic than ever, and a force to be reckoned with. Also doing a brief stint with the band was Dorothy Mooreof "Misty Blue" fame.
Following maybe one too many lineup changes, Whitsett disbanded the group. Soon afterwards, he received a call from
Don Daviswho was now Vice President of Stax Records. Davis had heard demos on the group, including Tim Whitsett's splendid "Get It Over Anyway" on Tommy Tatethat was released in 2005 on the CD "Troubled Waters: Deep Soul from the Deep South". Davis wanted them to augment The Bar-Kays, as well as the remaining MGs ( Booker T. Joneshad left the company), as another house bandfor the label and its recently greatly expanded roster. Tim Whitsettand Tommy Tatesigned on as songwriters and within a week, Whitsett was put in charge of publishing. Carson Whitsettwould come to Staxthree years later and record an album as a member of The MG's, and Tate replaced Ollie Hoskinsas lead singer of The Nightingales.
Tim Whitsett- trumpet, harmonica, vocals, piano, harpsichord, percussion, bass (Publisher, producer, author)
Carson Whitsett(keyboardist, songwriter, producer, and arranger)
Tommy Tate(Vocalist, often called "America's best kept secret")
Murry Kellum( Carl Perkins), ( Grand Ole Opry); Bucky Barrett( Roy Orbison); and Jerry Puckett( Ricky Nelson, The Champs)
*Vocalists Buzz Aldridge and
Hank Martin(the latter heard on many national jinglesand theme song to popular '80s cartoon Thundercats)
*Drummers: Buddy Myers,
Dulin Lancaster( Nancy Sinatra, Mississippi Fred McDowell) and artist Bill Dunlap. Also, Jimmy Hodo (Saxophone), the only group member with Tim Whitsettin every incarnation of the band.
*Bass Players: Ronnie Kellum, Ed Clarke, Guy Bowering, Bennett Jennings.
External links and references
* [http://www.heybabydays.com/Reader_Comments_2007-2ndQ.pdf Imperial Show Band members]
* [http://www.melingo.com/thesoulnet/ridley.htm Mississippi's first integrated band]
*"All Shook Up: Mississippi Roots of American Popular Music" By Christine Wilson
*"Heeey Baby Days of Beach Music" By Greg Haynes
*"Soulsville USA - The Story of Stax records" By Rob Bowman
*"New Kommotion" Magazine - United Kingdom - Winter 1977
*"Soul Bag" Magazine - France - May 1992
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