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

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