Ivory Joe Hunter Biography

10 October 1914, Kirbyville, Texas, USA, d. 8 November 1974, Memphis, Tennessee, USA. Although Hunter was a well-known figure in Texas through his radio shows, it was not until the 40s, when he moved to the west coast, that his career flourished. He established his own record companies, Ivory and Pacific, recording on the former with Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers (the Exclusive licensed crossover hit ‘Blues At Sunrise’), while the latter provided the outlet for Hunter’s first R&B chart-topper, ‘Pretty Mama Blues’. Hunter continued his success with several singles recorded with sidemen from the Duke Ellington Orchestra before one of his most enduring compositions, ‘I Almost Lost My Mind’, became a second R&B number 1 in 1950. A re-recorded version also proved popular when the singer moved to the Atlantic Records label later in the decade, but Pat Boone’s opportunistic cover version was a greater commercial success. However, a further fine Hunter original, ‘Since I Met You Baby’, then swept to the top of the R&B chart in 1956 and to number 12 in the national pop chart. Other big R&B hits during this period included the King Records sides ‘Don’t Fall In Love With Me’, ‘What Did You Do To Me’, ‘I Like It’, ‘Waiting In Vain’, ‘Guess Who’, ‘Landlord Blues’, ‘Jealous Heart’ and ‘I Quit My Pretty Mama’, while Hunter also scored success on MGM Records with the aforementioned ‘I Almost Lost My Mind’, ‘S.P. Blues’, ‘I Need You So’ (his third R&B chart-topper), and ‘It’s A Sin’. The double A-side ‘Empty Arms’/‘Love’s A Hurting Game’ and ‘Yes I Want You’ (all on Atlantic) provided Hunter with his final R&B hits.

Unhappy at being labelled an R&B act, this talented and prolific artist was equally adept with pop, ballad and spiritual styles and in later years became a popular country attraction, so much so that a benefit concert was held for him at Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry shortly before his death in 1974, as a result of lung cancer.

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