Amos Milburn

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Texas pianist Amos Milburn (b. Houston, 1927; d. 1980) was a link between boogie woogie and rock 'n' roll piano styles. He improved upon the traditional left hand boogie woogie pattern of a walking bass--the eight-note bass pattern repeating every two bars--and did a faster 4-note pattern, with lightning fast figures on the right hand. You can hear the same thing on Fats Domino's early recordings, and Domino has often said that Amos Milburn was a main inspiration for him. Milburn claimed, as his own inspiration, Louis Jordan, Albert Ammons, Ivory Joe Hunter, and lifetime friend, Charles Brown.

Milburn's biggest hit was "Chicken Shack Boogie" of 1948, but he had many top hits on the R&B charts from 1948 to the early 50's. Most of these hits involved drink, such as his classic, "One Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer."

Most of Milburn's recordings were slow blues and ballads, but his rockers are among the most energetic ever made. "Amos Blues," cut in 1946 during his first recording session, demonstrates the music from his earlier period, and how he must have sounded while playing boogie woogie as a soldier during WW II. In 1956, he recut his classic "Chicken Shack Boogie," and that remake is one of the hardest-driving rock 'n' roll records ever made.

  1. Amos Blues, 1946  (first minute)
  2. Chicken Shack Boogie, 1956 remake  (first minute)

 

 

The below photo shows Amos on piano with the Paul Williams Orchestra in the late 40's. Williams is in the center on baritone sax. The same band can be seen playing with Amos in  this great late-40's video