Bobby Marchan Biography

30 April 1930, Youngstown, Ohio, USA, d. 5 December 1999, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. Marchan was a New Orleans entertainer who had moderate success both as a rock ‘n’ roller and soul singer. His long-time career as a female impersonator reflected a time-honoured tradition in black entertainment, originating in medicine shows. He began performing in Ohio as a comic drag singer, and in 1954 made his way to New Orleans as a member of a drag-queen troupe called the Powder Box Revue. Also in that year, he made his first records for California-based Aladdin Records. In 1957, he joined Huey ‘Piano’ Smith and the Clowns as lead vocalist and, with his distinctive vocals and pianist Smith’s boogie-woogie stylings, recorded a succession of infectious rock ‘n’ roll hits, notably ‘Rockin’ Pneumonia And The Boogie Woogie Flu’ and ‘Don’t You Just Know It’. Marchan left the Clowns in 1960 after leaping onto the charts with a melodramatic version of ‘There Is Something On Your Mind’ (number 1 R&B and number 31 pop), a cover version of Big Jay McNeely’s hit of the previous year. Marchan’s version made an impact through its impassioned recitation involving sexual jealousy and murder, lifted from an earlier New Orleans hit, Larry Darnell’s ‘I’ll Get Along Somehow’ from 1949. Marchan had a moderate hit in 1966 with ‘Shake Your Tambourine’ (number 14 R&B). He continued to record into the mid-70s, but with no further success. In-between singing engagements, Marchan worked as a female impersonator on New Orleans’ Bourbon Street, and was a master of ceremonies at many clubs. He died of liver cancer in December 1999.

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

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