SUGAR CHILE ROBINSON "Go Boy Go" 1949-1952

Frank Issac Robinson was born in Detroit on December 26, 1938 and, except for the fact he decided to leave music and pursue an education, we might have been hearing as much about him when the R&R Era was ushered in in late 1954/1955 as we did one Richard Penniman, aka Little Richard. In fact, there is a current e-mail being circulated which claims that the child boogie-woogie pianist appearing in the 1946 Van Johnson film No Leave, No Love is Little Richard. But no, it's Sugar Chile Robinson, a name bestowed upon him by his mother Elizabeth thanks to his fondness for sugar cubes.
This is one of those classic "what if" stories because, truth be told, this was one talented young man bordering on genius, as you will quickly discern for yourself by looking up that film clip (where he sings Caldonia), and listening to these tracks. With seven older siblings, and with a birthday coming one day after Christmas, it's understandable if attention from mom and dad Clarence may have been sparse at times, so he turned to a piano given to the family by an aunt and, according to legend, he was all of 2 years old when he did an admirable job of replicating a record he heard of Tuxedo Junction by the famed Erskine Hawkins.
At age 3 he won a talent show at the Paradise Theatre in Detroit, and before he turned 7 in 1945 he had appeared there on cards with legends Lionel Hampton and Frankie Carle, and before the year was out had been signed to a contract by MGM Studios, appearing in the above-mentioned film. Dad Clarence, however, resisted attempts to sign his son to a longer term deal, so he satisfied his performing zeal by making more appearance with Hampton as well as Harry "The Hipster" Gibson and his aggregation.
He even played for President Truman at the White House in 1946, that same year earned the highest one-week income of $36,000 at the Regal Theatre in Chicago, and by year's end his Revue out in California, which at one point even featured Sammy Davis, Jr., was taking in close to $150,000. His brief recording career with Johnny Mercer's Capitol Records only began in 1949 following settlement of the American Federation Of Musicians strike of 1948, and special dispensation related to his age (he was just 10 years old).
This great compilation from Rev-Ola of England (a re-issue of the 2003 release from Blues & Rhythm Classic of France) also provides excellent sound reproduction for both sides of all 9 singles and additional tracks from two Capitol albums, starting with his first two releases which became nationally charted hits. Accompanied by bass player Leonard Bibbs and drummer Zutty Singleton, Numbers Boogie got to # 4 R&B in late fall of 1949 on Capitol 70037 b/w After School Blues, and in December, Caldonia (What Makes Your Big Head So Hard) made it to # 14 R&B b/w Vooey Vooey Vay on Capitol 70056.
And while none from among the rest of his singles (detailed in the Comments below) made it to any national charts, all sold well on a local basis even as he toured in 1950 with non other than Count Basie, his Sextet and Lady Day herself, Billie Holiday, and the following year did a two-month stint in the U.K. where he was wildly popular. In fact, they asked him back in 1952, but by this time Frankie had made up his mind to end the tutoring and pursue a formal education at school in Detroit.
At age 15 he graduated from Northern High School, followed by graduation from Olivet College, made a brief comeback in Jazz music to about 1956, before returning to the University Of Michigan where he became a Doctor of Psychology. In recent years he has started to perform again, including an appearance at the European Rhythm Riot in 2007, but for any more details you will have to buy this fabulous compilation.
All this and much more is detailed in the 5 pages of liner notes written in June 2007 by Dave Penny which also contains 8 great photos of Sugar Chile, including one each with Joe Louis and his wife, Danny Kaye, Zutty Singleton and Leonard Bibb, and one of him in a kilt looking at a set of bagpipes as it it was some creature from the sea. (Living Blues)trax:
01 Numbers Boogie 02 After School Blues 03 Vooey Vooey Vay 04 Caldonia (What Makes Your Big Head So Hard?) 05 Say, Little Girl 06 Bouncing Ball Boogie 07 Sticks And Stones 08 The Bases Were Loaded 09 Broken-Down Piano 10 I'll Eat My Spinach 11 Christmas Boogie 12 Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer 13 Baby Blues 14 The Donkey Song 15 The Hunkie Man (Ice Cream Man) 16 The Green Grass Grows All Around 17 Whop! Whop! 18 Hum Drum Boogie 19 Lazy Boy's Boogie 20 Detroit Rag 21 Frustration Boogie 22 Go Boy Go 23 St Louis Blues 24 Yancey Special 25 Caldonia (From No Leave, No Love) 26 Sugar Chile Boogie _ Hen House Door _ Robinson Boogie _ Tuxedo Junction (From The Soundtrack Of A 1947 Short Film) 27 After School Blues (From 1951 Universal International Featurette) 28 Numbers Boogie (From 1951 Universal International Featurette)
...served by Gyro1966...

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