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Obit: Earl Gaines, R&B Giant - 31 Dec 2009

Amos 09 Jan 10 - 06:59 PM
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Subject: Obit: Earl Gaines, R&B Giant
From: Amos
Date: 09 Jan 10 - 06:59 PM

"R&B music giant Earl Gaines, the vocalist behind the 1955 Louis Brooks & His Hi-Toppers hit "It's Love Baby (24 Hours a Day)," died in Nashville, Tennessee on December 31, 2009. Gaines was 74 years old.

Born in Decatur, Alabama and raised on a farm, Gaines learned to sing in his local church. He moved to Nashville at the age of 16 years old to pursue a career in blues music, and taught himself the drums to help ensure steady employment. Gaines first worked as a demo singer for songwriter and local R&B scenemaker Ted Jarrett, who also got him work in the city's thriving club scene.

"It's Love Baby (24 Hours a Day)" was the first national hit for the Nashville-based Excello Records label, and launched Gaines' solo career. The singer would record and perform throughout the rest of the 1950s and '60s, both solo and with various bands, and Gaines would enjoy a handful of hits before retiring from music in 1975."

Gaines worked as a truck driver until re-starting his musical career in 1989 with the release of the House Party album. Helped by Nashville producer and guitarist Fred James, Gaines released critically-acclaimed albums like I Believe In Your Love and Everything's Gonna Be Alright during the 1990s, but by 2000 he would once again retreat from music. This would all change when Gaines became one of the biggest features of the Night Train To Nashville: Music City Rhythm & Blues 1945-1970 exhibit that was sponsored by the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Gaines' contributions to both rhythm & blues and Nashville's R&B history were acknowledged by the exhibit and accompanying CD. Gaines' newfound fame lured him out of retirement, and resulted in concert bookings, parties, and one last album, 2008's Nothin' But The Blues. "I'm truly grateful," Gaines told The Tennessean newspaper when the exhibit closed in 2005. "This exhibit let people know Nashville is not just country and western. At one time this was a big blues city. Fats Domino, James Brown, B.B. King, all of them come here to cut R&B." Earl Gaines was as good as they come, a great vocalist and a gentleman."

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