Revisiting The “T-Bone Shuffle”

Back on April 21, 2010, my first “On This Day In Music History” post was about the song “T-Bone Shuffle” by Blues singer/electric guitarist T-Bone Walker.

The date of that post was the anniversary of Walker’s recording of the song in 1955, in Chicago, IL for Atlantic Records.

But I had missed one detail: that recording done in 1955 was not T-Bone Walker’s first recording of  “T-Bone Shuffle.” It was a re-recording of the song: something that Blues artists of that era commonly did when they changed record labels.

How had I missed this? Where had I gone wrong?

Here’s what led to my startling (and somewhat embarrassing) discovery.

On April 21, 2011, I was telling a student who was working on “T-Bone Shuffle,” about the significance of the day. During the conversation, I opened up my copy of Wolf Marshall’s 1998 book: Blues Guitar Classics (an excellent collection of transcriptions) and read from the section about “T-Bone Shuffle.” Marshall said that the recording he had transcibed was released in 1949.

Hmmm?

When I got home that evening, I checked the liner notes to my copy of the 2000 Rhino CD Blues Masters: The Very Best of T-Bone Walker and sure enough, it listed April 21, 1955 as the recording date. Then I listened to the track.

Ooops.

This was not the “T-Bone Shuffle” I knew and loved.

Quickly, I popped my copy of the 1986 Charly CD, T-Bone Walker: Low Down Blues into my player and clicked on Track 16. There it was!

The liner notes to the Charly CD, by Alan Balfour, stated that the 22 tracks on the disc had all been recorded between late-1946 and early-1948 in Los Angeles, CA for Black & White Records.

Further research (a big “Thank You” here to the Dimond Library at the University of New Hampshire) into the discography section of the T-Bone Walker biography Stormy Monday: The T-Bone Walker Story by Helen Oakley Dance, revealed just the information I was looking for.

Drum roll, please.

The original “T-Bone Shuffle” was recorded in November of 1947. (An exact date was not given.) It was one of four sides recorded in a session at the Los Angeles recording studio of Black & White Records, the others being: “Vacation Blues,” “Inspiration Blues” (aka “Born To Be No Good”) and “Description Blues.”

The musicians on the session were: T-Bone Walker, electric guitar & vocals; George Orendorff, trumpet; Bumps Meyers, tenor saxophone; Willard McDaniels, piano; John W. Davis, bass; and Oscar Lee Bradley, drums.

“T-Bone Shuffle” was not released, however, until sometime in 1949. (You were right, Wolf Marshall!) The July 30, 1949 issue of Billboard Magazine lists T-Bone Walker as #31 on the list of “Top Selling Rhythm & Blues Artists” and the Comet Records single “T-Bone Shuffle” as one of the three records whose sales earned him that distinction.

So: mystery solved.

We can all sleep better now.

Next time: listen first. Titles can be deceiving.

P.S.: The original, 1947 recording is the hands-down better version of the two.

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One Response to Revisiting The “T-Bone Shuffle”

  1. TPS says:

    Excellent research, Eric. You’re forgiven for your horrendous mis-speak earlier…. 🙂
    It’s amazing that so much information about these blues artists can be found at all, given the racial tone of the country at that time. We can all be thankful for those who recognized this music as something really special and made the effort to document and catalogue….

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