JOHNNY MOORE (By Dave Penny)

Born John Dudley Moore, 20 October 1906, Austin, Texas
Died 6 January 1969, Los Angeles, California Older brother of jazz guitarist Oscar Moore, the Moore family moved to Phoenix, Arizona, where Johnny and Oscar were raised and where they formed their own string band. In the mid 1930s, like thousands of other Texans and Okies, the Moore brothers relocated to Los Angeles, where Oscar joined the King Cole Trio and Johnny, after several false starts, would hook up with fellow Texans Eddie Williams (born St Augustine 1912) and Charles Brown (born Texas City 1922). The Three Blazers began winning amateur talent contests with alarming regularity, however their first recording deal was almost entirely due to the reputation of Oscar Moore: Robert Scherman of Atlas Records had recently lost Nat "King" Cole to Capitol and was eager to record another rhythm trio in a similar style, when Oscar told him of his brother's unrecorded group, so Scherman agreed to record the Blazers if Oscar would play with them. The records were subsequently released as by "Oscar Moore with The Three Blazer s" which upset Johnny terribly, and so the boys were soon looking for another record deal! Johnny Moore was fiercely independent and notoriously distrusting of the recording business - he reportedly never once signed an exclusive contract for him or his band - and in retrospect this may have held the group back; even when, by 1946, it was clear that the trio's selling-point was the handsome young man at the piano, he refused to change the group's billing and insisted it remained "Johnny Moore's Three Blazers". The fact that Charles Brown was the group's main asset became obvious from the recordings made in 1945 for Leon Rene's Exclusive label and the Mesner brothers' fledgling Philo/Aladdin Records which began to garner big local sales, culminating with "Drifting Blues" a #2 Billboard R&B hit in 1946. Moore's "non-exclusive" policy resulted in the trio hopping between Modern and Exclusive from 1946 to 1948, and enjoying an unending chart presence in the Billboard Top 10 with hits such as "Sunny Road" (#4), "So Long" (#4), "New Orleans Blues" (#4), "Changeable Woman Blues" (#5), "Groovy Movie Blues" (#10), "More Than You Know" (#4), and particularly the perennial "Merry Christmas Baby" (#3 1947, #8 1948 and #9 1949). All of these hits, were sung by and often written by Charles, but he wasn't reaping any financial benefits because Johnny Moore was calling all the shots and often usurping the writer credits, and so the inevitable split came in 1948 with Charles signing an exclusive contract with Aladdin Records (and, tellingly, recording "Get Yourself Another Fool"!), while the remaining two Blazers continued with a succession of Charles Brown sound-alikes; Lee Barnes and Billy Valentine were used on the trio's RCA Victor recordings during 1949-50, Floyd Dixon covered the Aladdin and Combo sessions, and Frankie Ervin sang on the Modern, Blaze and Hollywood recordings from 1953 to 1955. During the 1950s, Moore's main squeeze Mari Jones was also utilized on sessions for the Aladdin, Modern, R&B, Recorded In Hollywood, Money, Blaze and Holl ywood labels. Moore also continued to hit the Billboard R&B chart, albeit not nearly as frequently as his ex-employee, and scored with "Where Can I Find My Baby" (#8 1949), "Walkin' Blues" (#7 1949), "I'll Miss You" (#15 1949), "Dragnet Blues" (#8 1953) and "Johnny Ace's Last Letter" (#15 1955). During the rock 'n' roll revolution, like many of his contemporaries, Moore was out of favour and the recording deals were few and far between; for old times sake, Charles Brown had Johnny and Eddie Williams accompany him on a couple of his sessions during 1953/54 and, for the same reason, Leon Rene recorded him again for a solitary Rendezvous 45 in 1959, while during the 1960s, odd releases came out on tiny labels like Lilly and Cenco. Recommended Listening: "Charles Brown: The Classic Earliest Recordings" (JSP CD 7707) "Driftin' & Dreamin'" (Ace CDCHD 589) "The Cocktail Combos" (EMI/Capitol 52042) "Los Angeles Blues: The Complete RCA Recordings 1949-50" (Westside WESD 217)

These pages were originally published as "This Is My Story" in the
Yahoo Group "Shakin' All Over". For comments or information
please contact Dik de Heer at

-- Return to "This Is My Story" Index --