(Little) Laurie Tate
Sometime during the summer of 1950, Herb Abramson one of the co-founders of Atlantic Records, was scouting the middle Atlantic (the ocean) states for new talent for the label, when he heard a young girl in Richmond, Virginia with an interesting singing style. She was Laurie Tate and she was signed to the label and in a short time a recording session was set up with the backing of the Joe Morris band. The very first effort produced "Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere". Simply put, this is one of the greatest R & B blues ballads ever recorded. Close to a half century later, it has stood the test of time as a landmark recording that defines the style of the period. The flip side was called "Come Back Daddy Daddy" but not many were interested in that tune. By the middle of November "Anytime" had become the number one selling R & B record in the entire nation. This was quite a feather in the cap of the label and its partners. Bowing to the huge and widespread demand for the side, it became Atlantic Records first 45 rpm issue in January of 1951. Soon after a follow up record was released - "Don't Take Your Love From Me" / "Stormy Weather". Tate became part of the Joe Morris band as featured vocalist, and a stint at the Showboat in Philadelphia was followed by her first extended road dates in Texas and Oklahoma.
In June the band was now called the Joe Morris Blues Cavalcade and included vocalist Billy Mitchell as well as (Little) Laurie Tate. During the mid-summer the band tours California and Atlantic comes out with a new record pairing "You're My Darling" / "I Hope You're Satisfied". A strange story comes to light concerning the hit recording of "Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere". It seems that a legal action was taken concerning copyright infringement against Atlantic, and the case was settled out of court by re-recording the tune making slight changes to the lyric content. All parties refused to elaborate any further, and so a lingering mystery remains to this day. The writers of the original music were listed as Victor Young, Ned Washington, and Lee Wiley (who co-authored a 1933 tune-"Any Time, Any Day, Anywhere"). The following spring, Atlantic releases "You Can't Stop My Crying" / "Rock Me Daddy". The 'A' side, "Crying" jumps off in a big way selling more than 50,000 in the first ten days of release (or so claims Atlantic). Laurie Tate and the Morris band have a two week stay at Atlanta's top R & B club, The Royal Peacock.Tate and the Joe Morris Blues Cavalcade will join in a "Battle of the Blues" during a Labor day river boat cruise. Morris will have his combo augmented by newcomer Ray Charles on piano and vocals. They will do musical battle with the crew of Paul "Hucklebuck" Williams. Charles stay with Morris lasts a few weeks and he goes on as a solo performer. He is replaced by Oklahoma blues singer Lowell Fulson in late September. In the next month "Doctor" Willie Jones joins the Morris band as a vocalist and the Blues Cavalcade with the three vocalists and tenor sax man Billy Clark is hailed as one of the top draws on the one nighter trail.
As the group gets ready for a new string of appearances sharing the bill with the Five Keys, Laurie Tate suddenly decides that she has had enough of the road. She quits the band and quits the business altogether, a combination of the grind of one nighters, frustration at not being able to reproduce her success with "Anytime" and the possibility of impending motherhood combine to lead her to make her decision. The almost two and a half years on the road took its toll on the young woman, and today she is seldom remembered by anyone except the most ardent R & B fans and historians. Joe Morris continued on, and found a new female vocalist named Faye Scruggs, who as Faye Adams had monster R & B hits "Shake A Hand", "Anything For A friend", and "I'll Be True" all backed by the Joe Morris band for the Herald label. After Adams, Morris did a turn with Ursala Reed without much success. He passed away in the late 50s still a relatively young man, and like Tate is seldom remembered.
But - the classic recording remains, the one that is on every decent compilation of Atlantic R & B hits. From the instrumental backup, the tenor solo (probably Johnny Griffin), the manic signature piano of Van Walls, and most of all the powerful and earnest blues singing of Laurie Tate, this is certainly one of Rhythm & Blues best three minutes ever.
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