As my most awesome series so far almost comes to half a close, I would like to reflect
on the past 9 choices for subjects.
My choice for number 11 is Big Al Downing.
In my opinion the every time people regard Charley Pride as one of country music’s only black
superstars I feel they have forgotten Big Al.
He was born Al Downing in Oklahoma on January 9th 1940 and he was an entertainer, songwriter, publisher
and pianist. He did more than just country however country was what he was mostly noted for doing.
He was a frequent performer on the Grand Old Opry and American Bandstand, Hee Haw and many more.
He received the Billboard’s new artist of the year in 1979. And best new artist by the Acadamy
Of Country Music.
Downing began his career doing piano and vocals in Bobby Poe and The Poe Kats, who were an early backing band for country entertainer Wanda Jackson. His piano playing contributed to the single “Let’s Have A Party”, which was released in 1960. The song reached #32 on the UK charts and made the Top 40 on the U.S. pop chart.
Downing reached the U.S. Hot 100 with “You’ll Never Miss the Water (Till the Well Runs Dry)”, a duet with Little Esther Phillips. After the release of this single, he was signed by Warner Brothers. His 1974 single, “I’ll Be Holdin’ On”, made the Disco charts in America and Europe, reaching number one on the U.S. dance chart
In 1978 his most popular hit “Mr. Jones” rose to fame and he rose in popularity quickly.
, followed by “Touch Me (I’ll Be Your Fool Once More)” in 1979. That same year, Downing produced “Midnight Lace,” which reached the 50s on the charts, and “I Ain’t No Fool,” which peaked at the upper 70s. In 1980, the “Story Behind The Story” reached the Top 40 and “Bring It On Home” reached the Top 20.
During the next few years he had several top 40 hits and in the 1980’s “There’ll Never Be A Better Night For Being Wrong” was his last song for the team label.
In 1987, “Big Al” was signed by the Vine Street label, which released the “Oh How Beautiful You Are” (To Me) and “Just One Night Won’t Do,” both of which hit the Top 70. Two years later, he was signed by Door Knob Records, with whom he produced the 1989 Top 100 hit, “I Guess By Now.”
Multi genre music legend Fats Domino recorded two songs written by Downing: “Mary, Oh Mary” and “Heartbreak Hill”. Bobby “Blue” Bland and Tom Jones have also recorded Downing’s songs.
In 2003 One Of A Kind was his last album of 14 new songs that were met with moderate commercial success.
He continued to be a regular performer on the Opry and many other shows.
He was hospitalized and diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Soon after, he commenced chemotherapy treatment. country music lost Big Al Downing on July 4, 2005.