English 112 pages/Seiten; 22/15cm; rare pictures/seltene Bilder; Paperback. Superb biography with discography (chronological/numerical/alphabetical)
Who was the greatest vocalist in the pre-soul black music? Was it Sam Cooke? Little Willie John? Big Joe Turner? the Silvertones' Rev. Claude Jeter? By most criteria, McPhatter went against the grain. Black music is full of voices that are full, deep and rich. Clyde McPhatter sang in a high, almost strangulated, tenor. It was not without precedent, but it was distinctly unusual. What made McPhatter truly outstanding though was the emotion that he communicated. There is a scorching intensity to his best work that transcends the often trite material and occasionally dated arrangements. At his best, he was truly
Yet, like so many other brilliant artists, he had self-destruction buttons implanted all over him. His life did not end in a sordid murder like Sam Cooke, nor did it end in jail like Little Willie John. Instead, McPhatter, riddled throughout his life with self-doubt and reprobation, slowly killed himself with alcohol. For those who loved him or his music, it was a bleak and humiliating demise. Clyde McPhatter had been one of the biggest stars in rock & roll but when the hits dried up and the applause grew fainter, he drifted into a self-destroying hell. He was crippled by a combination of alcohol and gnawing personal problems to the point where he could barely capitalise upon his status as a faded hitmaker from the '50s and could certainly not attempt a comeback in soul music, a genre he had helped to define.
His influence can be felt everywhere. Some artists such as Dee Clark started their careers as Clyde McPhatter copyists; others such as Smokey Robinson openly acknow-ledge their debt to him. He was second only to Sam Cooke in terms of the number of artists who cite him as a major influence. Even in the Caribbean, singers such as Owen Gray modelled their style upon his. Elvis Presley was a true fan. He dipped into his Clyde McPhatter collection throughout his long career and even went on record as saying that he wished he could sing like Clyde. Tom Jones may have put more sweat into Without Love but he only managed a poor shadow of McPhatter's passion.
This year, Clyde McPhatter would have been fifty-five years old. Instead, he has been dead for fifteen years. All we have left are a few video clips, some photographs and the recordings. This book was designed to accompany the Bear Family Records retrospective of McPhatter's MGM and Mercury recordings. However, it is also the first attempt at a fairly detailed biography. Clyde McPhatter was an introverted and uncommunicative nerson_ even to those bring a degree of guesswork to some of the problems he faced. It also means that the biography is nowhere near as full and complete as it should be for an artist of McPhatter's stature. However, that prob-lem is far easier to come to terms with than reconciling the tremendous respect that one feels for the man's work and the frustration at recording the pitiable depths to which he sank.