Often the history of music “hides” artists from the general public, either because they are not searching, or because they were not recognized enough.
In fact, there are some artists who, although they should be famous, are “forgotten” somewhere over the years.
Although they have created a legacy that should have them forever in the pantheon.
One such legacy is for Blues fans (and not only), it is “Hit the Road Jack”, which was recognized by Ray Charles and not by the original performer.
A calm, melodic voice is the first performer of this song named Percy Mayfield.
Who was Percy Mayfield?
Born in Minden, Louisiana, he showed an early talent in poetry and later in songwriting and interpretation.
He participated in several orchestras as a guest singer and later collaborated for about 2 years with George Como.
He began his career in Texas and in 1942 moved to Los Angeles, but without success in singing until 1947.
Swing Time Records, a small record label, included him in its roster and recorded “Two Years of Torture”.
The song also features saxophonist Maxwell Davis, guitarist Chuck Norris, and pianist Willard McDaniel.
In 1949, Mayfield approached Supreme with the idea of using some of his songs for artist Jimmy Witherspoon.
Its sales bring in 1950 a contract with Art Rupe Specialty Records.
Many of the bluesmen of the time focused on the white market, but not Mayfield.
This means that he remains consistent in the style of the colors by singing Blues ballads and songs that he composed.
One of his most famous songs is “Please Send Me Someone to Love”, the number one successful R&B single in the late 1950s.
His career flourished as he followed a series of six Top 10 R&B hits, including “Lost Love” and “The Big Question”.
He was regarded as the Blues’ top ballad performer and has been hailed by critics as “a true master at expressing his inner feelings with vulnerability and passion”.
The end of… interpretation
A serious car accident in 1952, while he was at the peak of its popularity, forced it to withdraw from the interpretation.
Nevertheless, he continued to compose and record for both Specialty and Chess Records and Imperial Records, after 1954.
In 1961, Mayfield’s song “Hit the Road Jack” caught the attention of Ray Charles, who brought him to Tangerine Records as a songwriter.
He signed a five-year contract and became Charles’ personal songwriter, where he composed at least 15 songs.
In the 1970s, after recording with RCA, he briefly signed with Atlantic Records, where Soul & Blues artist Johnny “Guitar” Watson produced “I Don’t Want to Be the President”.
In the early 1980s, Mark Naftalin discovered that Mayfield lived in the East Bay area and invited him to collaborate on recordings and live performances.
His reappearance led him back to the studio in 1982 under the Dutch company Timeless Records.
In 1983 along with the Phillip Walker Blues Band, they recorded the album “Hit the Road Again”.
Most of Mayfield’s songs had nothing to do with the general theme of the Blues, but with understanding, calm, peace, and love among all people.
His death on August 11, 1984, marked the loss of one of Rhythm N Blues’ most creative and distinguished poets.