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Rosco N. Gordon III (April 10, 1928 – July 11, 2002)[1] was an American blues singer and songwriter. He is best known for his hit songs "Booted" and "No More Doggin'" (1952) and "Just a Little Bit" (1960).[2] Gordon played piano in a style known as "the Rosco rhythm," with the emphasis on the off-beat. This rhythm was an influence on the Jamaican pianist Theophilus Beckford and hence on reggae music as a whole.[3]

Rosco Gordon
Background information
Birth nameRosco N. Gordon III
Born(1928-04-10)April 10, 1928
Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.
DiedJuly 11, 2002(2002-07-11) (aged 74)
Queens, New York City
Years active1950–2002


Gordon was born in Memphis, Tennessee. He was a pioneer of the Memphis blues style[3] and in the late 1940s and early 1950s was associated with Johnny Ace, Bobby Bland and B.B. King, sometimes referred to as the "Beale Streeters."[4] After they won a talent contest at Memphis' Palace Theatre on Beale Street in 1951, MC Rufus Thomas invited them to play on his radio show, and he took Gordon to Sam Phillips' Memphis Recording Services. Gordon was also scouted by Ike Turner, talent scout for the Bihari brothers, to record at Modern Records.[5]

Gordon first recorded "Booted" at Phillips' Memphis Recording Services.[5] Phillips licensed the record to Chess Records (owned by Leonard and Phil Chess), and it was released as a single in December 1951.[4] He also recorded a version with Turner which was released on RPM Records (subsidiary of Modern) in January 1952.[6][3] The RPM release reached number one on the Billboard R&B record chart.[2] Chess and the Bihari brothers later settled the conflict, with the Biharis getting exclusive rights to Gordon and Chess signing Howlin' Wolf to an exclusive contract.[7] Gordon also has a successful record with "No More Doggin'" (#2 R&B) which was also released by RPM in 1952.[8][6]

Gordon's last single to reach the charts was "Just a Little Bit" (#2 R&B, #64 Pop) in 1960.[2][3] In 1962, he quit the music industry and moved to Queens, New York City, with his new wife, where he purchased a partnership in a laundry business. Following his wife's death in 1984, he returned to performing in the New York area.

In 2002, he was invited by the filmmaker Richard Pearce to be included in a documentary film about several blues musicians returning to Memphis for a tribute to Sam Phillips in conjunction with the May 2002 W.C. Handy Awards. The documentary, The Road to Memphis, aired on PBS television.[9] Six weeks after filming finished, Gordon died of a heart attack at his apartment in Rego Park, Queens.[4] He was 74 years old.[4] He was interred in the Rosedale Cemetery in Linden, New Jersey.

On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Rosco Gordon among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.[10]


  1. ^ Eagle, Bob; LeBlanc, Eric S. (2013). Blues: A Regional Experience. Santa Barbara, California: Praeger Publishing. p. 246. ISBN 978-0313344237.
  2. ^ a b c Whitburn, Joel (1988). Top R&B Singles 1942–1988. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research. p. 170. ISBN 0-89820-068-7.
  3. ^ a b c d Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues: From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books. p. 114. ISBN 1-85868-255-X.
  4. ^ a b c d Thomas, Bryan. "Rosco Gordon: Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved June 1, 2009.
  5. ^ a b "Rosco Gordon". All About Blues Music. July 11, 2013. Retrieved 2019-10-21.
  6. ^ a b Gillett, Charlie (2011). The Sound of the City: The Rise of Rock and Roll. Souvenir Press. ISBN 9780285640245.
  7. ^ Cohodas, Nadine (2000). Spinning Blues into Gold. St. Martin's Press. p. 64. ISBN 0-312-26133-0.
  8. ^ "Most Played Juke Box Rhythm & Blues" (PDF). Billboard: 35. May 10, 1952.
  9. ^ Gallo, Phil (September 6, 2003). "The Road To Memphis". Variety. Retrieved 2019-10-21.
  10. ^ Rosen, Jody (June 25, 2019). "Here Are Hundreds More Artists Whose Tapes Were Destroyed in the UMG Fire". The New York Times. Retrieved June 28, 2019.

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