Jump-blues pianist Floyd Dixon dead at 77

July 30, 2006 at 5:37 AM
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ORANGE, Calif., July 29 (UPI) -- R&B pianist and songwriter Floyd Dixon, whose "Hey Bartender" was brought to the masses by the Blues Brothers, has died in Orange, Calif., at age 77.

The 1997 W.C. Handy Award winner who specialized in the style known as jump blues died of cancer Wednesday at Chapman Hospital, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The Marshall, Texas native moved to Los Angeles with his family and made his first recording, "Dallas Blues," on the Supreme Records label 1947. He was compared back then to Charles Brown, who later became his mentor.

In addition to "Hey Bartender," other popular Dixon recordings included "Wine, Wine, Wine," "Call Operator 210," "Telephone Blues" and "Too Much Jelly Roll" by Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller.

Like Brown did for him, Dixon helped launch the careers of Ray Charles, B.B. King and Robert Cray among others, the Times said.

The advent of rock 'n' roll in the early 1960s pushed Dixon out of the limelight but he came back with a successful European tour in the mid 1970s and his 1997 live recording, "Wake Up and Live!" on Alligator Records won the Handy award for comeback blues album of the year.

"He simultaneously knew that he was a quite an important figure in music, but he was also a somewhat neglected one," Alligator President Bruce Iglauer told the times.

Dixon never married and is survived by two cousins.

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