Song Of The Wanderer : Lynn Hope©2004JCMarion


Lynn Hope was born in Birmingham, Alabama on September 26, 1926. After high school he chose music as his profession and soon joined the band of trumpeter King Kolax in the early forties. Along with Hope in the sax section of the Kolax band were future stars Joe Houston and John Coltrane. After leaving Kolax he stayed on in Chicago and looked for a chance to record in that city making the rounds of the growing number of independent labels devoted to jazz and R & B.

In March of 1950 Miracle Records of Chicago was undergoing a reorganization of sorts. Label president Lee Egalnick announced that all masters recorded by Memphis Slim were sold to Swingmaster while the label's sides by Sonny Thompson were sold to Signature (both labels also based in Chicago). At this time Egalnick also announced the label's signing of the Lynn Hope Combo of Cincinnati. Less than two months later Egalnick ended his association with Miracle and started Premium Records and announced plans to issue the new company's first release by Lynn Hope. Premium #851 was soon released featuring the songs "Tenderly" and "Song Of The Wanderer". Some trade paper advertisements carried the artist as "Len" Hope, as sales began to show. Premium Records has its first hit record as they struggle to keep up with demand in all parts of the country. By October of the year "Tenderly" begins to emerge as a good seller on the West Coast. Late in the year riding the popularity of "Tenderly" the Lynn Hope Quartet is a big draw in Cleveland at that city's Ebony Club.

Early in 1951 Hope and his quartet play the Northeast theater circuit and also are a top attraction at the North East Casino in Washington D.C. In April the Hope group has an addition and become a quintet and is signed to Aladdin Records in Los Angeles. In may the first Aladdin release by the combo is out which pairs the tunes "Blue Moon" and "Blow Lynn Blow" on #3095. During the summer Hope returns east and appears at Gamby's in Baltimore. Guitarist Orville Hardiman known as "Baggy", joins the Lynn Hope combo in time for their weeklong appearance at Cleveland's Ebony Club in August. Hardiman had been a member of the Five Kings and also backed up singer Savannah Churchill. The quintet signs for a number of appearances throughout 1952 at Philadelphia's Showboat Lounge. In October "Too Young" and "Free And Easy" are released on Aladdin #3103. The next month has Aladdin coming back with "Eleven Till Two" on #3109. late in the year Chess Records of Chicago buys past masters by Lynn Hope from the Premium label. Hope follows Charlie Parker into the Showboat in Philly as the year ends. Hope embraces the Muslim faith and chooses to wear a turban at all his appearances, which makes a memorable impression with fans.

In February of 1952 Chess Records releases two songs recorded by Lynn Hope for Premium in 1950. The songs are "Stardust" in keeping with the practice of one side covering standard ballads. The flip side is "More Bounce To The Ounce" and it is on Chess#1499. In April a national radio broadcast over the Mutual network presented "The Concert At Midnight" live from Carnegie Hall in New York. The Lynn Hope Quintet performed the jump tune "Hope Skip And Jump". Also on the broadcast were Dinah Washington, Louis Jordan, Lionel Hampton & his Orchestra, and Eddie Heywood. The show was mc'ed by Ed Sullivan and Art Ford. "Hope Skip And Jump" begins to sell in Los Angeles. The tune is on Aladdin #3128. In May of 1952 a survey of record buyers shows that White customers who buy R & B records prefer instrumentals by such artists as Tab Smith, Earl Bostic, Jimmy Forrest, Sonny Thompson, and Lynn Hope. The Hope group makes appearances in the New York City area during May. The quintet will join The Orioles on a special riverboat concert in Washington D.C. during the summer. In June "Sentimental Journey" and "Drifting" are released by Aladdin on #3134. The previous side "Hope Skip And Jump" was their biggest seller for the label. Hope and his combo join Amos Milburn for summer appearances in Atlantic City, New Jersey. In August the Lynn Hope Quintet will embark on a series of one nighters throughout the South. Also on the bill are Tab Smith and Edna McGriff. After the tour Hope (a practicing Muslim) will journey to Saudi Arabia for a vacation. "Drifting" selling well in Philadelphia and Washington D.C. In late September Hope resumes his stay at Philly's Showboat. In November Aladdin releases "Move It" on #3155. The flip side is "Don't Worry About Me". The record immediately starts to sell in Philadelphia. Hope tells all that he has changed his name to Al Hajj Abdullah Rasheed Ahmad and is a devout follower of the Muslim faith.

In January of 1953 despite his name change, Ahmad continues to be identified professionally as Lynn Hope. "Blues For Anna Bacoa" and "September Song" are released on Aladdin #3165. Cash Box identifies the record as its pick hit of the week, and sales are strong in the Northeast and in Southern California. Hope and his combo are a steady draw on the road especially in Philadelphia and Washington D.C. In March, Linda Hayes and Lynn Hope team up for a series of one nighters in the Baltimore-Washington area. In May Hope is at the Hunts Point Palace in The Bronx, New York, then goes over to Bermuda for a series of appearances. At about this time Aladdin Records releases "Morocco" and "Broken Hearted" on #3178. The Philadelphia Showboat again signs Lynn Hope for a series of appearances throughout 1954. In June Aladdin Records releases a new version of "Tenderly" coupled with "Just The Way You Look Tonight" on #3185. In August Robert martin who was an original member of the Lynn Hope Quartet, returns after a two year hitch in the U.S. Army in Okinawa. The vibes stylist rejoins the combo as they open a Southern swing at Atlanta's Bronze Peacock. In October Hope adds Little Nat Henderson, an eleven year old singer-dancer to the combo. Late in the year "Rose Room" on #3208 starts off strong on the sales lists. The Hope combo with Little Nat end the year at Gleason's in Cleveland.

Aladdin Records starts off 1954 with a new Lynn Hope record. The songs are "Girl Of My Dreams" with Lynn doing the vocal, and "South Of The Border" on #3219. In April the Hope combo are off on a number of one nighters throughout the East and Midwest. During the tour Aladdin releases "Brazil" and "C-Jam Blues" on #3229. The combo appears in the Philadelphia area for much of the last three months of the year. The one road trip the combo went on had them joining The Moonglows and Lowell Fulsom touring the Midwest. From that time on Lynn Hope recorded very sporadically and kept a low profile. In late summer of 1955 "Summertime" and "All Of Me" on Aladdin #3297. In June of 1956 "Cherry" and "Blues In F" on #3322 for Aladdin. In August Aladdin Records will release an R & B LP album called "Rock & Roll With Rhythm & Blues" and feature tunes by label artists including Lynn Hope. In February of 1957 Hope travels to Egypt and the Middle East for a tour. Hope's last known appearances are in early 1960 and then he disappears from the music scene.

Lynn Hope (or Al Hajj Abdullah Rasheed Ahmad) was on the music scene for almost two decades. His first hit "Tenderly" led the way for many of the early fifties instrumental stars and he is remembered for his musical stylings and stage appearances.

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