2 Shades of Grey

Songs from the soundtrack of your life

Arthur Alexander – a big influence but little known

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SCAN0103 Arthur Alexander, a country and soul singer/songwriter,  was born in Sheffield, Alabama and recorded his first single, “Sally Sue Brown“, under the name of June Alexander (short for Junior), which was released in 1960 on Jud Phillips’ Judd Records. (Phillips is the brother of music pioneer Sam Phillips). It wasn’t a hit.

Alexander then recorded “You Better Move On in 1961 at a former tobacco warehouse-turned-recording studio in Muscle Shoals and it became a soul/R&B chart hit.

It’s perhaps Alexander’s best-known song, covered by the Rolling Stones and the Hollies among others. It also kick-started the studio as the hit factory for soul music combining black singers ad white country musicians.

On the UK release the flip side was “A shot of rhythm and blues” which was covered in the UK by Johnny Kidd and the Pirates who reached no 48 in the charts with it (More on him here). It was also covered by Gerry and the Pacemakers ( a pretty good version) and played live by the Beatles on the BBC.

His next song “Where Have you been (all my life)” wasn’t a hit for him but was covered in the UK by Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders on their album. The song and its flip-side “Soldier of Love” were sung by the Beatles in their stage act and also on the BBC.

Anna (Go to Him), a U.S. R&B Top Ten Hit, was covered by the Beatles on their first album  “Please Please Me” with John Lennon taking the lead vocal part.

SCAN0101SCAN0104Although he made more records he never quite achieved the fame he probably deserved and gave up performing for a while driving a bus for a living.

Alexander died of a heart attack on 9 June 1993 aged just 53 just a few days after  and appearing in Nashville to promote his comeback album “Lonely just like me”.

He will be remembered as a singer/songwriter whose material was covered by such noteworthy artists as The Rolling Stones, The Who, Esther Phillips, Joe Tex, Marshall Crenshaw, Bob Dylan, Pearl Jam, Ry Cooder, Ike and Tina Turner, Dusty Springfield, Jerry Lee Lewis, and the Beatles.

His songs were also part of the staple diets of aspiring R ‘n’ B and rock groups in the 1960s.  “Where have you been” for example is a song we’ve both performed with different groups and together and its still popular today

I’ve put lots of links to Youtube on here so you can listen to and compare the different versions.

Author: mikethepsych

He says he's a psychologist but aren't we all?

5 thoughts on “Arthur Alexander – a big influence but little known

  1. How about a blog about Major Lance, another artist who seems to have been forgotten?

  2. Thanks. AA was a supreme singer and writer with a mainline to the heart. Thanks for the article and the links. you may enjoy my Immortal Jukebox post on his song In The Middle Of It All. regards thom.

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