The Four Blazes
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The Four Blazes were an American R&B vocal and instrumental group formed in Chicago and popular in the 1940s and 1950s. They were also occasionally known as The Five Blazes or just The Blazes.Read More...
The group was formed in 1940 by drummer Paul Lindsley "Jelly" Holt, an experienced Chicago musician who had previously been a member of the Five Rhythm Rocketeers. The Rocketeers had a residency at the Grand Terrace Ballroom, and linked up with Earl Hines for a European tour in 1939. When they returned, the Rocketeers broke up and Holt formed a new band, The Four Blazes. The other original members were Jimmy Bennett and William "Shorty" Hill on guitars and mandolin, and Prentice Butler on bass.
Bennett was later replaced by lead guitarist Floyd McDaniel (1915-1995), and the group also added pianist Eddie Harper. As The Five Blazes, they first recorded for Aristocrat Records in 1947, including the song "Chicago Boogie", becoming only the second act to record for what would later become Chess Records. Confusingly, an entirely different group from Los Angeles called The Four Blazes also recorded a song called "Chicago Blues" around the same time.
The Chicago group became The Four Blazes again after Harper left, and, in 1951, Butler died and was replaced by lead vocalist and bass player Tommy Braden. The group recorded a series of singles for United Records from 1952 onwards, several of them featuring saxophonist Eddie Chamblee who later joined the group. Their first release, "Mary Jo", hit # 1 on the R&B charts in August 1952, and the follow-ups "Please Send Her Back To Me" and "Perfect Woman" also made the R&B top ten.
In 1954, Braden left for a solo career; he died in 1957. The group itself broke up without further success in 1955. "Jelly" Holt carried on singing with the Four Whims before retiring in the early 1960s, while McDaniel performed with the Ink Spots
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