Mose Vinson / Booker T. Laury Biography

7 August 1917, Holly Springs, Mississippi, USA, d. 16 November 2002, Memphis, Tennessee. Vinson’s piano playing was a time capsule of blues and boogie techniques learned in the 30s and 40s. As a five-year-old, he sat on his mother’s lap to play piano in church. At 15, influenced by meeting Sunnyland Slim, he decided to move to Memphis, where he worked barrelhouses and bars, broadening his repertoire to play for white audiences, where the real money was. In the late 40s he played at the Parlor Club, accompanying the young B.B. King. Working as a plumber and janitor by day, in 1953 Vinson took a job as caretaker at Sam Phillips’ Sun Records studio. Between sessions, he would sit at the piano and run through various pieces.

Phillips decided to record him and cut two versions of ‘44 Blues’, one retitled ‘Worry You Off My Mind’, and ‘My Love Has Gone’, also known as ‘Come See Me’, later featured on both Charly and Bear Family compilations. Musicians on the two sessions included Walter Horton, Joe Hill Louis and Joe Willie Wilkins. The following year, Vinson played on James Cotton’s Cotton Crop Blues. When his style of music fell out of fashion, he continued to play in church and at home until he was taken up by the Center for Southern Folklore. Under their auspices, he played for schoolchildren and at various cultural functions. His contributions to Memphis Piano Today were recorded at his home in 1990, by which time his playing had suffered from the ravages of old age. He died from complications with diabetes in 2002.

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

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