BOBBY "FATS" MIZZELL
Born Robert Mizzell, 4 May 1937, Childersburg, Alabama
Singer / pianist. Bobby Mizzell is one of the great unknowns of rock n roll. Though he has been active on the music scene since 1956, I didn't discover him until 1987, during a visit to my friend Stan Govaard in Amsterdam, who has introduced me to a lot of good music since 1966. Stan had received a single from Cees Klop, which had only just been released according to Cees. The artist was Bobby Mizzell and the two titles featured were "Fat Man Boogie" and "Moron Rock" (Kim 314), both wild piano rockers that sounded as if it was still 1958 instead of 1987.
Born in Childersburg, Bobby grew up in nearby Sylacauga, Alabama. He got in touch with music through a piano playing aunt. The first records he bought were by Camille Howard, Hadda Brooks and Roy Milton. As a teenager, he won a talent contest in Birmingham (on WAPI-TV) playing "T.D.'s Boogie Woogie". By 1956 Bobby had his own 50 minute radio show on WHTB in Talladega, Alabama and that's where he met Jerry Woodard (1941-1980). The two boys liked the same kind of music, rock n roll, rockabilly and boogie woogie. Together they cut demos of "You Are My Sunshine" and "You Don't Love Me", which were eventually released by Cees Klop on White Label LP 8833 in 1981. The two friends arrived in Birmingham in early 1957 and formed a band with three others. Jerry and Bobby were the vocalists of the group, besides playing guitar and piano respectively. Both men started their own label : Jerry formed FAD Records and Bobby got his Kim label started. Only a handful of singles were issued on Kim in 1957-58, almost all by Bobby himself, a mix of instrumentals and vocal sides. The best was the instrumental "Knockout" (available on YouTube, albeit in mediocre sound quality), one of the buried treasures of piano rock n roll. Bobby and Jerry used the same band and played on each other's records.
The year 1959 saw Mizzell recording for Homer Milan's Reed label out of Birmingham, for which he did rocking instrumentals like "Atomic Fallout" (c/w "Don't Make Me Lonely" by Jerry Woodard) and a B. Bumble styled piano version of "Heart And Soul", the old Hoagy Carmichael favourite. The latter was coupled with "Same Thing", sung by Lee Wayne (Woodard), Jerry's brother, with Bobby on piano. The film company 20th Century Fox showed interest in this single (Reed 1028) and leased it for nationwide distribution on the 20th Fox label in late 1959.
In 1960 Bobby released three more Kim singles (in a new 100 series), one by himself and two by Chris Tyler, who is not the same person as Big T. Tyler of "King Kong" fame. That same year Mizzell relocated to Beaumont, Texas, where he became a part of the local recording scene as a session pianist. His new managers were Bill Hall and Jack Clement, who ran the Hall-Way label from 1962 till 1965. Bobby plays on many Hall-Way recordings (Johnny Preston, Rod Bernard, Jivin' Gene, Benny Barnes, Dickey Lee and others). He still made the occasional record himself, for labels like Century Ltd, Philips and Diamond Jim, but not for Hall-Way.
By 1966 he had moved to California, where he would work in the motion picture business as a film editor for many years, restoring old classic films. He resumed his recording career in 1986, reviving his old Kim label in the process. Kim 307 ("Knockout") had been released in 1958 and Bobby simply continued with Kim 308 in 1986 ("Rambo Rock"/"Rocket In My Pocket"). The result was a string of strong (vocal) boogie rockers, with the excellent James Intveld on guitar. Production credits alternated between Intveld, Mizzell and Hadda Brooks. The latter was one of Bobby's early influences. She had not recorded for three decades, but Mizzell enticed her out of retirement and wrote a song for her, "House Of Boogie Woogie" (Kim 313), which he also recorded himself in 1991.
Bobby was the last person to record with Rick Nelson, just before Nelson's untimely death on December 31, 1985. Together they cut two songs, "You Got Me Gone" and "Singing the Blues". The former had to wait until 2008 for a release by Cees Klop on the CD "41 Years Collector Records"; "Singing the Blues" is included on the CD "For Ricky Nelson Fans Only" (1999). Mizzell's music is featured in two movies : "Deuce Coupe" (1992) and "Red Hot" (1993).
Bobby's new recordings (1986-1993) were assembled on a Kim CD called "Beverly Hills Boogie" (26 tracks), which was distributed in Europe by Teddy Records in Sweden. It also includes an overdubbed version of "Birmingham Boogie" from 1957. In February 2010 Mizzell released an album of mp3s http://www.tradebit.com/filedetail.php/97089569-house-of-boogie-woogie This 31-track collection (also available on Spotify) offers many enjoyable tracks, but as a whole it is not as strong as the 1993 CD. But it shows that, at the age of 73, Bobby Mizzell is still going strong.
The CD "Beverly Hills Boogie" (Kim CD 501, 1993) is highly recommended, but no longer in print. Liner notes by Bo Berglind (acknowledged).
More info : http://www.birminghamrecord.com/home/node/1021
More about Jerry Woodard :
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