Arthur Prysock Biography

2 January 1929, Spartanburg, South Carolina, USA, d. 14 June 1997, Hamilton, Bermuda. After singing with a number of small bands, in 1945 Prysock joined Buddy Johnson, with whom he appeared at many Harlem clubs and ballrooms. Subsequently, he worked as a soloist, signing to Decca Records in 1952 and achieving chart success with a version of the standard ‘I Couldn’t Sleep A Wink Last Night’. After recording for numerous small labels he signed a long-term contract with Hy Weiss’ Old Town Records and, in 1964, broke into the big time via a recording contract with Verve Records and record sessions with Count Basie’s orchestra. He had some success thereafter, performing at Carnegie Hall in 1966 and hosting his own television show.

He also appeared on labels including Mercury, MGM, Polydor and King Records. Although not a jazz singer in the real sense, Prysock had a broad vocal sound and his deep voice sometimes resembled Billy Eckstine, some of whose hits he covered. He also sang R&B (‘When Love Is New’ was a Top 10 R&B hit in 1976) and it might well be that his eclecticism harmed his wider acceptance. He also gained wide exposure as the voice on the Lowenbraü beer ‘Here’s To Good Friends’ jingle. While recording for Milestone Records in the late 80s he received Grammy nominations in 1987 and 1988 for Best Jazz Performance By A Group Or Duo (‘Teach Me Tonight’) and Best Jazz Vocal (‘This Guy’s In Love With You’). He also taught vocal jazz at Five Towns College as part of an artists in residence programme in his later years.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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