In the music business there are many factors that define the razor edge between the "'Legends' and the Lost". The right sound, at the right time, in the right place are foremost on the list, but are not the only factors that will determine the placement of any musician in the history books. The pages are also subject to edit by record companies and producers, the fickle nature of fans, the general acceptance and understanding of your work by other musicians, and, of course, "Luck".
The Musicians in "Through The Cracks" are those who, whether by chance or choice, never received their just due for the contributions they have made to the progression of music. The nature of this section, being on the obscurities of the music world, guarantees difficulty in obtaining adequate and accurate info, so feel free to add, correct, or debate the contents herein. Submission/comment
Joe Stanley, (Dec. 1, 1935–Jan. 7, 2007), The Godfather of the down-and-dirty R&B sax of the '50s and '60s. Known for his raspy, rough-hewn sound, Joe had been a professional musician since his teens, and a fixture of Washington DC area rock, country, jump blues and rhythm-and-blues bands for five decades. To the fifty years worth of fans/musicians who heard him play, saxophonist Joe Stanley was, as the title of his only album states, the "King of the Honky-Tonk Sax" and the consummate musician's - musician.
Throughout the east coast, saxophonist Joe Stanley played his way through the arenas that were the backbone of R&B movement in "The Fabulous Fifties". He led the great Bill Black Combo (Elvis' backup band), toured with Marvin Gaye, and mentored countless Maryland musicians including Danny Gatton and Roy Buchanan. Joe was cousin to Jerry Lee Lewis and Mickey Gilley and he started playing the DC/Maryland region clubs in the '50s. He was one of the small handful of musicians that would cross the color line to play with the black musicians in uptown DC, long before the racial barriers began to crumble.
Joe was a member of Big Joe & the Dynaflows, the Big Four Combo and was an original member of the Rainbows with Marvin Gaye, Don Covay and Billy Stewart. Joe could go from playing one night with Link Wray, the next with Roy Clark, and the next with the Orioles and toured regularly with all of them. He had his own band, The Saxtons that backed Big Joe Turner, Sam Cooke, Little Anthony, The Ames Brothers, Lloyd Price, The Drifters, Bobby Darin, Bobby Rydell, Jackie Wilson, Dion & the Belmonts, Freddie Cannon and many others.
The Saxtons would alternate sets on a double bill with Jimmy Dean, providing the rock & roll counterpoint to Jimmy's country sound. He toured with Roy Clark's band and played the Arthur Godfrey show with him. He was in Dale Hawkins' band with Roy Buchanon. He and Roy left Dale at the same time and Roy became a member of The Saxtons. In the early '60s Joe became a member of the Bill Black Combo, and ended up leading the band when Bill Black died.
Joe played with Charlie Daniels when Charlie was working the scene in DC dressed in a tuxedo with slicked back hair. Joe had a standing invitation from David Bartholomew to come join in whenever Fats Domino would come to town. Joe Stanley helped Danny Gatton get his first gigs and was part of the Danny and the Fat Boys band and the two of them were in Robert Gordon's band. He was also part of the Red Hot Swinging Johnsons with Derek Huston and Jeff Lodsun.
During his 50-plus years in D.C.’s music scene, he was widely known as one of D.C.’s most sought-after sidemen. "[He was] the top instrumentalist in town,” says Mark Opsasnick, author of Capitol Rock, a history of the area’s early rock scene. “He was on call all over town.” Bandleaders from rival clubs would contact Stanley while he was onstage at one bar, Opsasnick says, and hire him to play with another band across town later that night.
“Joe was the kinda guy…who somehow learned to play nightclub jazz, and R&B, and country, and rock ’n’ roll equally well,” said Bill Holland, longtime D.C. musician and former D.C. bureau chief for Billboard. How Stanley became so versatile, however, remains a mystery. “I don’t know whether he was self- taught; I’m sure he never went to music school,” Holland says. “I think he learned on the street, listening to people play live, and records,” says bassist John Previti, who played on Stanley’s album. “He had no music theory, per se. He was just seat-of-the-pants and ear all the way.”
Joe Stanley was a 1999 inductee of the Washington Area Music Association Hall of Fame, and has one CD, King of the Honky-Tonk Sax on Mapleshade records. Joe continued to perform through November 2006, until he became ill, and passed away on January 7, 2007.
When you piece together his history, you ask yourself, why has he not received more recognition?
Thanks to Nikki at http://www.myspace.com/joestanleydc
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