Friday Five: Little Junior Parker

Within the general popular culture, Little Junior Parker is one of the least recognized architects of rock n’ roll music. He is not forgotten by critics and historians of the sound. Here’s five of his best.

5. “Pretty Baby“: Songs like this give you a sense of his importance to the sound of rock n’ roll and R&B music. The sounds reminds me of Little Richard and Elvis in one.

4. “You’re My Angel“: His first hit, for the Modern Records label. No YouTube link for this little gem; clicking on the title takes you to Spotify.

3. “Mystery Train“: This song became a hit for another Mississippi-born artist who also recorded for Sun Records.

2. “Feelin’ Good“: If you’ve heard any number of R&B and rock tunes in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, aspects of this classic will sound familiar. Parker actually recorded the tune as “Feel So Bad” as well, so it’s a familiar sound of his. I wonder how it sounded on first listen?

1. “Next Time You See Me“: What a glorious performance on a glorious blues number. Parker died the year before I was born and, yet, with this song he has always been a part of my musical life.

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2 thoughts on “Friday Five: Little Junior Parker

  1. Little Junior Parker meant something special to me when I was a kid, even though I don’t remember his music. When I was, oh, I don’t know, 7-10 years old, there was a local radio station in the town next to ours. I grew up in an odd version of segregation, despite being only 30 miles from Oakland. There were no black people in my hometown. All of the black folks lived in the next town. That radio station, which was largely top 40, had a DJ who came in on Sunday nights and played R&B. (His name was Ollie Freeman, and that’s another story.) He was always doing advertisements for upcoming concerts in the area … I feel like James Brown was always coming to town. Little Junior Parker was also frequently on the bill. There was no way I could go to those concerts … my parents weren’t going to let my 10-year-old self go to any concerts. And while James Brown was a crossover artist whose songs I knew, all I knew of Junior Parker was that he was always coming to town. So I associate him very much with early-60s R&B.

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