Milton in 1977
|Birth name||Roy Bunny Milton|
|Born||July 31, 1907|
Wynnewood, Oklahoma, U.S.
|Died||September 18, 1983 (aged 76)|
Los Angeles, California
|Genres||R&B, jump blues|
|Labels||Specialty, Warwick, Kent, Black and Blue|
|Associated acts||Ernie Fields, Camille Howard, Johnny Otis|
Milton's grandmother was Chickasaw. He was born in Wynnewood, Oklahoma, and grew up on an Indian reservation before moving to Tulsa, Oklahoma. He joined the Ernie Fields band in the late 1920s as singer and, later, drummer.
After moving to Los Angeles, in 1933, he formed his own band, the Solid Senders, with Camille Howard on piano. He performed in local clubs and began recording in the 1940s, his first release being "Milton's Boogie" on his own record label. His big break came in 1945, when his "R.M. Blues", on the new Juke Box label, became a hit, reaching number 2 on the Billboard R&B chart and number 20 on the pop chart. Its success helped establish Art Rupe's company, which he shortly afterwards renamed Specialty Records.
In 1950, Milton and his Orchestra performed at the sixth famed Cavalcade of Jazz concert held at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles which was produced by Leon Hefflin, Sr. on June 25. Also featured on the same day were Lionel Hampton & His Orchestra, Pee Wee Crayton's Orchestra, Dinah Washington, Tiny Davis & Her Hell Divers, and other artists. 16,000 were reported to be in attendance and the concert ended early because of a fracas in the crowd while Hampton's band played "Flying Home".
Milton and his band became a major touring attraction, and he continued to record successfully for Specialty Records through the late 1940s and early 1950s. He recorded a total of 19 Top Ten R&B hits, the biggest being "Hop, Skip and Jump" (number 3 R&B, 1948), "Information Blues" (number 2 R&B, 1950), and "Best Wishes" (number 2 R&B, 1951). He left Specialty in 1955. However, releases on other labels were unsuccessful, and with the emergence of rock and roll his style of music became unfashionable by the middle of the decade.
He continued to perform, appearing as a member of the Johnny Otis band at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1970, and he resumed his recording career in the 1970s with albums for Kent Records (Roots of Rock, Vol. 1: Roy Milton, Kent KST-554) and for the French label Black & Blue Records (Instant Groove, Black and Blue 33.114).
Milton died in Los Angeles on September 18, 1983, aged 76.
A cover version of his song "Reelin' and Rockin'" was recorded by the group Rocket Sixty-Nine for their 1996 album Jump Shot!
- Rock 'n' Roll Versus Rhythm and Blues (Dooto, 1959)
- Great Rhythm & Blues Oldies Volume 9: Roy Milton (Blues Spectrum, 1977)
- Trumpet Star (Eurogram, 1980)
- Boogie Woogie Jubilee (Telefunken, 1981)
- Instant Groove (Classic Jazz, 1977)
- Du Noyer, Paul, ed. (2003). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Music. Fulham, London: Flame Tree. p. 181. ISBN 1904041965.
- Eagle, Bob; LeBlanc, Eric S. (2013). Blues: A Regional Experience. Santa Barbara, California: Praeger. p. 340. ISBN 978-0313344237.
- Doc Rock. "The 1980s". TheDeadRockStarsClub.com. Retrieved October 5, 2015.
- Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues: From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books. p. 140. ISBN 1-85868-255-X.
- "Art Rupe's Specialty Records". History-of-rock.com. Retrieved November 26, 2006.
- "Cavalcade of Jazz Attended by 16,000" Review Los Angeles Sentinel June 29, 1950