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Mickey Baker

Of all the guitarists who helped transform rhythm & blues into rock & roll, Mickey Baker was one of the very most important, ranking almost on the level of Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley. The reason he wasn't nearly as well known as those legends is that a great deal of his work wasn't issued under his own name, but as a backing guitarist for many R&B and rock & roll musicians. Baker originally aspired to be a jazz musician, but turned to calypso, mambo, and then R&B, where the most work could be found. In the early and mid-'50s, he did countless sessions for Atlantic, King, RCA, Decca, and OKeh, playing on such classics as the Drifters' "Money Honey" and "Such a Night," Joe Turner's "Shake, Rattle & Roll," Ruth Brown's "Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean," and Big Maybelle's "Whole Lot of Shakin' Going On." He also released a few singles under his own name, and made a Latin jazz-tinged solo album, Guitar Mambo. Baker's best work, though, was recorded as half of the duo Mickey & Sylvia. Their hit "Love Is Strange," as well as several other unknown but nearly equally strong tracks, featured Baker's keening, bluesy guitar riffs, which were gutsier and more piercing than most anything else around in the late '50s. Mickey & Sylvia split in the late '50s (though they recorded off and on until the middle of the next decade), and Baker recorded his best solo album, the all-instrumental The Wildest Guitar. In 1961, he took the male spoken part (usually assumed to be Ike Turner) on Ike & Tina Turner's first hit, "It's Gonna Work Out Fine." Shortly afterwards he moved to France, making a few hard-to-find solo records and working with a lot of French pop and rock performers, including Ronnie Bird, the best '60s French rock singer. He recorded only sporadically after the mid-'60s. Mickey Baker died at his home in Montastruc-la-Conseillère, France on November 27, 2012, at the age of 87. ~ Richie Unterberger
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Stations Featuring
Mickey Baker

Albums by
Mickey Baker

Top Songs by
Mickey Baker

  1.   Song
  2.   Night and Day
  3.   Baker's Dozen
  4.   Sweet Home Chicago
  5.   Can't Find My Woman
  6.   Lazy Daisy
  7.   Got the Blues
  8.   I'll Always Be in Love With You
  9.   Lullaby of the Leaves
  10.   Baby Please Don't Go
  11.   Spoonful
  12.   Corrina, Corrina
  13.   Midnight Midnight
  14.   High Sheriff Blues
  15.   Gloomy Sunday
  16.   Love in Vain
  17.   Whistle Stop
  18.   My Black Woman
  19.   Tight Ropes and Bumpy Roads
  20.   Zanzie
  21.   Make Your Bed Up Mama
  22.   Milk Train
  23.   Baia
  24.   Sun Is Going Down
  25.   Stack-O-Lee
  26.   St. Louis Blues
  27.   Pour Monique
  28.   Ouagadougou
  29.   Bewildered
  30.   New York, New York (The People's Paradise)
  31.   Playing with Danger
  32.   Don't Doubt Me
  33.   Take a Look Inside
  34.   Blues Fell This Morning
  35.   Alexander's Funk Time
  36.   Juicy Lucy
  37.   In a Quiet Town
  38.   Diggin' My Potatoes
  39.   Autumn Leaves
  40.   Blue Jazz Rock
  41.   Corrine, Corrina
  42.   Prelude
  43.   Wag Your Tail
  44.   Pop Off
  45.   Third Man Theme
  46.   Lord Have Mercy
  47.   Terraplane Blues
  48.   She Brings Out the Animal
  49.   Town's East End
  50.   Guitarambo
  51.   Belzona Blues
  52.   Hello World
  53.   Old Devil Moon
  54.   Spinnin' Rock Boogie
  55.   Alexa
  56.   Animal Farm
  57.   Big John
  58.   Steam Roller
  59.   Guitar Mambo
  60.   Alabama March
  61.   Chloe
  62.   Shake Walkin'
  63.   Good Advice
  64.   Sophie
  65.   My Baby's Gone by Eddie Riff

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