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Part 2

Hedda Lettuce - Drag Queen Blues (2005)
Tiny Bradshaw & His Orchestra, with Little
     Tiny Kennedy - Newspaper Boy Blues (1952)
Billie McCallister - 31 E Blues (1952)
Patsy Valdelar (or Vidalia) - Keep Your Hands
     on Your Heart (1953)
Big Mama Thornton - Hound Dog (1952)
Little Richard - Directly From My Heart (1953)
Little Richard - Tutti Frutti (1955)
Little Richard on Esquerita (late 50s)
Esquerita - Just Another Lie (1958)
Esquerita - Dew Drop Inn (1965)

Bobby Marchan - Poor Pitiful Me (1956)
Huey Piano Smith & the Clowns -
     Don't You Just Know It (1958)
Bobby Marchan - There Is Something
     On Your Mind (1960)
Long John Baldry - Five Long Years (1965)
Blues Incorporated - How Long, How
     Long Blues (1962)

Janis Joplin - Cry Baby (1970)
Queer Blues

Hedda Lettuce

I'm giving NYC Drag Diva Extraordinaire Hedda Lettuce the honor of being the only modern artist you'll hear on this show, well, because I just couldn't resist using her song "Drag Queen Blues" to introduce this segment.

Hedda LettuceHedda Lettuce

Little Tiny Kennedy

Little Tiny Kennedy & Tiny Bradshaw CDs

Little Tiny Kennedy did female impersonation along with recording a number of releases in the 50s. The above album contains five of his tracks from 1952, though to my taste the real prizes were his guest vocals with the Tiny Bradshaw Orchestra in 1952 for the King label, doing "Newspaper Boy Blues" and "Rippin' and Runnin'"

Billie McAllister

Not much is known about Billie McAllister, and for the longest time I only knew that she recorded a very raw comedy album in 1972 for Rudy Ray Moore's Kent label, with the not-too-subtle title of "What a Big Piece of Meat." And from that album are the only pics I have of her. Note on the cover it bills her as "Mr?"

Billie McAllister

But she went back at least 20 years earlier, as she recorded four sides for an obscure Nashville label: "31 E Blues," "Walking in a Daze," "I Go For That," and "Well Alright Baby." They are quite rare, the one at upper left just went (not to me) for $76 on eBay. Fortunately I have the other 78, shown to the left. Both are circa 1952. Three of the songs have shown up on various artists collections, which you can track down online.

Patsy Valdelar, or Vidalia

Patsy Vidalia at the Dew Drop Inn

I've seen several spellings for Patsy's last name, but Vidalia seems to be the most accurate. When she recorded two tracks for Mercury in 1953 they resurfaced as by Patsy Valdelar on the various artists album below. It features her two tracks "Keep Your Hands on Your Heart" and "Rock Me." The screen captures above come from the wonderful DVD documentary "The Nightlife That Was," directed by Stephen Tyler in 2004. While she lacked success as a recording artist Patsy is still known as the Toast of New Orleans, for emceeing the shows at the Dew Drop Inn for two decades and for hosting the Gay Ball at Halloween, said to be the biggest party of the year. Born in 1921, she died in 1982.

V.A. CD featuring Patsy's two  recorded tracks   Patsy Vidalia

Click for More on Patsy Vidalia

For researchers I strongly recommend the "Nightlife That Was" DVD and the book "The Soul of New Orleans," by reknown music historian Jeff Hannusch. He wrote a whole chapter on Patsy, one of the few sources of information you're likely to find. A short article by him mentioning her can be found by Clicking Here.

"The Nightlife That Was"  Jeff Hannusch book

Big Mama Thornton

Big Mama Thornton

 Big Mama Thornton

Rumored to be lesbian, Willie Mae, or Big Mama Thornton (1926 - 1984) is mostly known today as having the original version of "Hound Dog," had had a hit with it in 1952, four years before Elvis scored even bigger with it.

Big Mama Thornton

Everyone played the Dew Drop Inn

Big Mama Thornton 78

Little Richard

Little Richard collage

I don't need to say much about Little Richard, as he's been a visible part of our culture for over 40 years, most recently on TV in a Geico commercial. I couldn't resist making up my own version of that, complete with fake pic including myself in the ad. In the center of the collage above is his recording of "Dew Drop Inn," though I prefer Esquerita's earlier one. Little Richard, born Richard Penniman, was born in 1932 and is the only artist featured on this show who is still living.

Esquerita

Esquerita

There's lots of excellent material by Esquerita (1938 - 1986) and it's easy to see that he and
Little Richard influenced each other. Esquerita however just couldn't get a hit, a shame.

Esquerita  Esquerita

Bobby Marchan

oh, Bobby   Bobby Marchan & Huey Smith 45   Bobby Marchan's biggest hit

Bobby Marchan (1930 - 1999) had a long career, recording on quite a number of record labels, with some mainstream success, such as in 1960 with the #1 R&B hit "There Is Something On Your Mind." He also sang lead on the 1958 hit "Don't You Just Know It" as released by Huey Piano Smith & the Clowns. And he founded his own drag troup, the Powder Box Revue, which toured extensively.

Click for More on Bobby Marchan

Long John Baldry

Blues Incorporated  Long John Baldry

Long John Baldry (1941 - 2005) had a lot to do with the British blues boom of the 60s,
and sang vocals on the album credited by some with starting that boom, "R&B from
the Marquee," by Blues Incorporated. He was quite influential on his own as well, helping
start the careers of Rod Stewart and Elton John. Baldry and Steward produced the
"It Ain't Easy" album that in 1971 yielded his most known American hit, "Don't Try to Lay
No Boogie Woogie on the King of Rock & Roll." And he was openly gay, even in the 60s.
Before you start guessing, his name came from his being 6'7" tall. He lived in Canada
the last 20 years of his life. Below, a collage of some of his albums and reissues.

Long John Baldry   Long John Baldry

Long John Baldry album collage

Janis Joplin

Janis Joplin   Janis

This show has been about early blues by gay, lesbian and bisexual artists, from the 1920s up to 1970. And I'm going to end the show with a very bluesy artist, who came upon the music scene in the mid 60s with a career that burned fast and hot, going out abruptly with her drug overdose in late 1970, at age 27. I'm talking about Janis Joplin. She had much album success with the San Francisco band Big Brother and the Holding Company, and as a solo artist in 1970 she was working on her next album. She died before it was finished but enough of it was done to enable the album, called "Pearl" and released the next year, to become her biggest selling album, with her biggest single, "Me and Bobbie McGee." From that same album I'm closing the show with her bluesy cover version of the 1963 hit by Garnett Mimms. Janis Joplin and "Cry Baby."

Dew Drop Inn

Back to Part 1 of Queer Blues

And, collectors Click Here for a couple recordings you should have
if you are researching queer blues songs.