07 August 2010

The Dictionary of Soul: Henry Glover

The great thing about being a rock and roll is the new names that are discovered inadvertently when researching something seemingly different. TNOP knew the bare bones biography of Henry Glover (1921 - 1991): a producer, arranger and talent scout for King Records, also an important figure in the desegregation of music in the late 1940s and into the 1950s.

A native of Hot Springs, Arkansas, Glover was exposed to a variety of music as a youth and became a trumpet player. After attending high school and college, he played in the Buddy Johnson and Lucky Millender big bands in the mid-1940s. His appointment with fate was meeting Syd Nathan, a record shop owner turned independent label mogul from Cincinnati, Ohio. Nathan's King Records became famous for signing and releasing numerous hits by James Brown, Hank Ballard and other R&B greats.

Glover's knowledge of jump blues and rhythm and blues was invaluable to Nathan, and led him to a land pioneering management position for a black man in the music business at the time. While at King, Glover produced some of the most important early R&B sides that would forever influence rock and roll: Little Willie John's "Fever"; Hank Ballard's "Annie Had A Baby"; and Bill Doggett's "Honky Tonk".

After leaving King in 1958 to join Roulette Records, Glover worked with Sarah Vaughn, Dinah Washington, Sonny Stitt and Ronnie Hawkins. The latter would prove important as he became an early backer of Hawkins' backup band, The Hawks, who would later famously back up Bob Dylan and then leave a music imprint of their own on rock history as The Band.

But what took us by surprise was the number of noted hits that Glover penned himself. The four that TNOP appreciate the most are all very diverse in sound and style. They all belong in our Ultimate Singles Jukebox, and we hope that you enjoy listening to and reading about them in the coming days.

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