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Episode #523 – R.I.P. Young Jessie

Air Week: May 11-17, 2020

R.I.P. Young Jessie

On April 27th, we lost Young Jessie, one of the unsung heroes of the LA vocal group scene. He was 83 years old. The West Coast is often ignored as a post World War II Rhythm & Blues hot spot, but some mighty fine R&B artists, groups and labels called LA home. This week, “Juke In The Back” spotlights the late, great Obediah “Young” Jessie, who at age 16, cut his first record with the Hollywood Blue Jays, which also included schoolmates Richard Berry and Cornell Gunter. The song, “I Had A Love” was written by Young Jessie and featured Gunter on lead. Soon, the group was renamed The Flairs and were recording for the Bihari Brothers’ Flair Records. Jessie went solo in ’54 and began working with Maxwell Davis’ great band. In ’55, he wrote and cut his more enduring song, “Mary Lou,” which unfortunately wasn’t a hit for Young Jessie, but became a huge hit for Ronnie Hawkins in ’59. His Modern Records output was top-notch ’50s R&B and Young Jessie was working with the best in the business. He was managed by Buck Ram, who also managed The Platters and The Penguins and he was recording with songwriters/producers Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, however, Young Jessie never enjoyed a national hit record. Matt The Cat spins the records that should-have-been hits by an artist that should be legendary. Let’s remember the great Young Jessie on this week’s “Juke In The Back.” 

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