The 100 Best Songs Of 2014

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Rufus Thomas at the WDIA Starlite Revue at the Mid-SouthBuy Photo
Rufus Thomas at the WDIA Starlite Revue at the Mid-South Coliseum Saturday evening, July 1, 1972. Thomas took the stage in a shocking pink "hot pants" outfit with cape and roused the audience of 12,000 with his performance. "We do this show each year so that black crippled children will have educational opportunity," he said. "WDIA is the voice of the black community here and the station has sure been good to me." Headliners for the show were Isaac Hayes and B.B. King.  Robb Mitchell, The Commercial Appeal>Fullscreen(Left to Right) Rufus, Carla, Vaneese & Marvell ThomasBuy Photo
(Left to Right) Rufus, Carla, Vaneese & Marvell Thomas gathered at the Overton Park Shell to perform before about 5,000 fans at an Arts In The Parks presentation on July 17, 1973. Rufus Thomas performed his "Funky Chicken" and other dances that made him famous and Carla sang the songs that made her and STAX Records famous. Rufus Thomas died Saturday, Dec. 15, 2001 in Memphis, Tenn. He was 84.  Richard Gardner, The Commercial Appeal files>FullscreenMarvell Thomas plays piano as Dixie Carter awaits herBuy Photo
Marvell Thomas plays piano as Dixie Carter awaits her cue in the lobby of The Peabody May 23, 1991 for filming to begin of a tourism television commercial promoting Tennessee. The theme is "We're Playing Your Song." Walker and Associates is producing a variety of the spots, which will be filmed throughout Tennessee.  Mike Maple, The Commercial Appeal>FullscreenBest Memphis Songs #81 - In "Memphis Chicken," an egg-scrambling
Best Memphis Songs #81 - In "Memphis Chicken," an egg-scrambling cacophony of punk funk, The Gibson Bros. find "Papa" to be way more uptight than, for example, Rufus Thomas, creator of the "Funky Chicken." “Papa don’t allow ‘Do the Funky Penguin.’ Papa don’t allow ‘Do the Funky Chicken.’”  Handout>FullscreenTrumpeter Wayne Jackson (center) with Andrew Love (left),Buy Photo
Trumpeter Wayne Jackson (center) with Andrew Love (left), B.B. King, Isaac Hays and Marvell Thomas.  Karen Pulfer Focht, The Commercial Appeal>FullscreenCarla Thomas in an undated publicity photo.
Carla Thomas in an undated publicity photo.  courtesy of Stax Museum of American Soul Music.>FullscreenRufus Thomas, Albert King and Luther Ingram (From Left)Buy Photo
Rufus Thomas, Albert King and Luther Ingram (From Left) shared a musical moment at The Peabody's Skyway in April 1984 where artists from the Stax recording company got together for a reunion dinner. The black tie dinner was a prelude to a reunion concert at the Mid-South Coliseum, with more than 15 former Stax artists invited to perform. Thomas Busler / The Commercial Appeal files.  Thomas Busler, The Commercial Appeal>FullscreenFeb. 19, 2011 -- Marvell Thomas, left, was honored
Feb. 19, 2011 -- Marvell Thomas, left, was honored with a note for Beale Street’s Walk of Fame Saturday at the HIstoric Daisy Theatre. With him is his pal and fellow Stax performer, singer/songwriter William Bell.  MIchael Donahue>FullscreenSept. 4, 2011--The musical children of Rufus Thomas,
Sept. 4, 2011--The musical children of Rufus Thomas, from left, Vaneese, Marvell and Carla Thomas, joined Judy Peiser, who held a portrait of the late entertainer, after the Thomas family performed Sunday during Center for Southern Folklore's Memphis Music and Heritage Festival. Peiser is the event's executive producer and the center's co-founder.  MIchael Donahue>FullscreenLegendary singer Rufus Thomas in front of WDIA Feb.Buy Photo
Legendary singer Rufus Thomas in front of WDIA Feb. 13, 1989. At the time, he was hosting a Saturday morning Blues show on WDIA.  Karen Pulfer Focht, The Commercial Appeal>FullscreenFrom left, Marvell Thomas, Pat Kerr Tigrett, Phil Ramone
From left, Marvell Thomas, Pat Kerr Tigrett, Phil Ramone and Jonathan Roper were among the guests at a reception at B. B. King's Blues Club prior to the Rufus Thomas tribute at the New Daisy.  MIchael Donahue>FullscreenEntertainer Carla Thomas, who started her career onBuy Photo
Entertainer Carla Thomas, who started her career on the Memphis-based Stax Records, and a group of children in the Foote Homes public housing project emphasize their point on July 22, 1987 as they practice an anti-drug song in preparation for public performance together.  Larry Coyne, The Commercial Appeal>FullscreenCarla Thomas at Wattstax, a benefit concert organized
Carla Thomas at Wattstax, a benefit concert organized by Stax Records to commemorate the seventh anniversary of the 1965 riots in the African-American community of Watts, Los Angeles. The concert took place at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on August 20, 1972.  Stax Museum of American Soul Mus>FullscreenRufus and Mrs. Thomas along with daughter, Carla Thomas
Rufus and Mrs. Thomas along with daughter, Carla Thomas (left) in a photograph dated July 1976.  Glenn Peterson / Memphis Press-S>FullscreenNovember 16, 1980 - Rufus Thomas performs at the firstBuy Photo
November 16, 1980 - Rufus Thomas performs at the first annual presentation of the National Blues Music Awards at the Orpheum Theater on November 16, 1980. Professor Longhair, a New Orleans boogie pianist-singer, Delta bluesman Robert Jr. Lockwood and Johnny Shines were among those garnering top honors.  James Shearin, The Commercial Appeal>FullscreenSeptember 26, 2013 - Memphis musician Carla ThomasBuy Photo
September 26, 2013 - Memphis musician Carla Thomas addresses the crowd gathered at Jerry Lee Lewis' Cafe and Honky Tonk on Beale Street during the announcement of the newest 13 inductees in the Memphis Music Hall of Fame. Other Memphis musicians who made the 2013 class of inductees are Knox Phillips, Sid Selvidge, The Bar-Kays, Johnny Cash, Roland Janes, David Porter, Albert King, Memphis Jug Band, Phineas Newborn, Jr., The Blackwood Brothers, Reverend W. Herbert Brewster and Kay Starr.  Mike Brown, The Commercial Appeal>FullscreenCarla Thomas and Otha Turner (not pictured) at the
Carla Thomas and Otha Turner (not pictured) at the 1989 Center for Southern Folklore Folklife Festival. Recordings of their performances, and others, were released this week on iTunes.  Center for Southern Folklore>FullscreenJanuary 13, 1998 - Rufus Thomas shares a laugh withBuy Photo
January 13, 1998 - Rufus Thomas shares a laugh with B.B. King on Rufus Thomas Boulevard. Rufus Thomas was presented with his own parking space on his street Tuesday evening.``I'm so happy to be back in Memphis, '' said King, who cut his teeth on Beale five decades ago and whose own club arguably turned the historical district around when it opened in 1991 as a tourist hotspot.  Alan Spearman, The Commercial Appeal>FullscreenFeb 26, 2007  --
In the home of Memphis Horns sax manBuy Photo
Feb 26, 2007 -- In the home of Memphis Horns sax man Andrew Love, Mable John (standing) and other members of the Stax Records family pray for him. From left to right David Porter, Marvell Thomas, Wayne Jackson, Amy Jackson, William Bell, Norman West, Isaac Hayes, Al Bell and Deanie Parker also pray for Love who was too ill to attend a press conference for European journalists at Stax Monday. Earlier in the day, more than twenty Stax veterans had convened in Studio A of the Museum of American Soul Music to speak at a special press event for an audience of European journalists in town for a junket sponsored by the Memphis Convention and Visitor’s Bureau to commemorate the city’s 50th anniversary of soul celebration. Also on Monday, Concord Music Group, the Beverly Hills-based company that owns Stax, announced that Hayes would serve as host for a label showcase at the annual South by Southwest music conference in Austin, Texas on March 15. The concert will feature performances by William Bell, Eddie Floyd and Booker T. & the MGs.  Alan Spearman, The Commercial Appeal>FullscreenCarla Thomas and Al Jackson Jr. in an undated photograph.
Carla Thomas and Al Jackson Jr. in an undated photograph. Al Jackson Jr.: The drummer for the Stax soul rhythm section Booker T. & the MG's was murdered in his Memphis home in 1975.  Stax Museum of American Soul Mus>FullscreenMay 16, 2000 --  STAX recording legend Carla Thomas
May 16, 2000 -- STAX recording legend Carla Thomas sings to a group of third graders at Rozelle Creative And Performing Arts Elementary School on Roland. Her appearance was made possible through a Tenneasee Arts Commission grant to the Memphis Arts Festival, according to Angela Less of the Memphis Arts Festival.  Dave Darnell>FullscreenUndated image of Stax songwriter David Porter with
Undated image of Stax songwriter David Porter with Stax artist Rufus Thomas. Photo by API, courtesy of Tim Sampson/The Stax Museum.  API>FullscreenRufus Thomas in undated (prior to 3/8/70) Stax RecordsBuy Photo
Rufus Thomas in undated (prior to 3/8/70) Stax Records handout. Thomas died Saturday, Dec. 15, 2001 in Memphis, Tenn. He was 84.  Stax handout, The Commercial Appeal files>FullscreenPoster for Rufus Thomas performance on Beale Street.
Poster for Rufus Thomas performance on Beale Street.  Thomas poster>FullscreenIn silver-sequined jacket and shorts over red shirt,Buy Photo
In silver-sequined jacket and shorts over red shirt, Rufus Thomas jump-starts the Memphis Rhythm and Blues Party in Nashville, Tenn. with his trademark Walking the Dog. The party was part of inaugural festivities in January 1995.  Robert Cohen, The Commercial Appeal>FullscreenRufus Thomas had his day on Beale Street, completeBuy Photo
Rufus Thomas had his day on Beale Street, complete with a parade and the unveiling of a historical marker at the site of the old Palace Theater Wednesday, March 22, 1995. He also received numerous proclamations presented by several organizations and governmental agencies. He receives a hug from fellow Memphis musican, Isaac Hayes, after the marker chronicling his career was unveiled.  Dave Darnell, The Commercial Appeal>FullscreenRufus Thomas had his day on Beale Street, completeBuy Photo
Rufus Thomas had his day on Beale Street, complete with a parade and the unveiling of a historical marker at the site of the old Palace Theater Wednesday, March 22, 1995. He also received numerous proclamations presented by several organizations and governmental agencies. He waved to well wishers as he was driven down Beale in a carriage.  Dave Darnell, The Commercial Appeal>FullscreenRufus Thomas prevents VA Canteen employee Mary Stills,
Rufus Thomas prevents VA Canteen employee Mary Stills, right, from escaping the stage after doing the "funky chicken" with him during the entertainment portion of the Welcome Home Celebration that the VA held in honor of its employees who participated in Desert Storm July 2, 1991. At far left is Bernadette Washington, a nurse's assistant.  Steve Jones>FullscreenThere's no disputing that Stax star Rufus Thomas was
There's no disputing that Stax star Rufus Thomas was “The Funkiest Man Alive” and “The World's Oldest Teenager” when you see this white cape with green sequins (left center). He was famous for his capes, many of which he wore with matching shorts.  (Karen Pulfer Focht/Commercial Appeal)>Fullscreen

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    In silver-sequined jacket and shorts over red shirt, Rufus Thomas jump-starts the Memphis Rhythm and Blues Party in Nashville, Tenn. with his trademark Walking the Dog. The party was part of inaugural festivities in January 1995.(Photo: Robert Cohen, The Commercial Appeal)Buy Photo

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    I’ve always liked nicknames, whether they’re simple and direct (Bruce Springsteen is "The Boss") or inexplicable to the uninitiated (a high school friend of mine was dubbed "Squelcho.")

    Some nicknames are descriptive. NBA power forward Karl Malone was "The Mailman" because he "always delivered" when he was on the basketball court.
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    Other nicknames are exotic. You’d think a 1940s actress who called herself Acquanetta and starred in a movie titled "Captive Wild Woman" wouldn’t need further glamorization; yet Universal publicists dubbed the studio's latest discovery "The Venezuelan Volcano," even though she was born in South Carolina and raised on the Jersey side of Pennsylvania.

    Memphis recording artist, disc jockey, dance craze originator and public personality Rufus Thomas was an entertainer for almost his entire life, so perhaps it's no surprise he attracted nicknames the way his Stax colleague Isaac Hayes collected gold chains and groupies.

    Thomas was known as "The World's Oldest Teenager," a sobriquet also claimed by Dick Clark.

    He was "The Crown Prince of Dance," although "Clown Prince of Dance" may have been more appropriate, given Thomas' onstage fondness for fuchsia shorts and purple boots.

    James Brown was "The Hardest Working Man in Show Business," but Thomas was "The Funkiest Man Alive." Doesn't it sound like Thomas was having more fun?

    Rufus Thomas was born 100 years ago this Sunday, March 26. The marquee outside the Stax Museum of American Soul Music at 926 E. McLemore trumpets the anniversary: "RUFUS THOMAS — A CENTURY OF FUNK."

    That's a lot of funk. The rap section of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" alludes to "the funk of 40,000 years," but — and I mean no disrespect to the (nickname alert) "King of Pop" — if I had to choose one over the other, I'd take Thomas' century of funk and leave Jackson's 400 centuries alone.

    Offstage if not always off the record, Thomas, who died on Dec. 15, 2001, could be an acerbic, disputative and bitterly insightful commentator on race relations and racial inequities. But onstage and on the literal record (i.e., the grooved vinyl of his 1960s and 1970s heyday) it's possible that no other Memphis performer, note by note, brought so much happiness to audiences.

    To read the titles of the hits, semi-hits, not-hits and buried treasures on the back of a Rufus Thomas compilation album is to be transported to a realm of irresistible grooves, unselfconscious exuberance and crazy comic joy — a place that is part nursery playroom, part backyard barbecue, part "Hee-Haw" cornfield, part sanctified Soulsville church service and part Beale Street Saturday night (with an incomparable bar band that included members of Booker T. & the MG's and the Bar-Kays).

    When Stax dubbed Thomas “The Funkiest Man Alive,” they weren’t kidding. If you ever wanted to visit a funky aviary, a funky restaurant, a funky animal shelter or a funky dance class, Thomas is your guide.

    The songs? There's "Do the Funky Chicken." "Do the Funky Penguin." "The Funky Bird." "Funky Hot Grits." "Funky Mississippi." "Funky Way." "Funky Robot."

    “Do the Double Bump." "(Do the) Push and Pull."

    "The Dog." "Walking the Dog.” “Can Your Monkey Do the Dog.” “Stop Kicking My Dog Around.” “Somebody Stole My Dog." "Can't Get Away from This Dog."

    "Itch and Scratch." "The Breakdown." "Git On Up and Do It." "Boogie Ain't Nuttin' (But Gettin' Down)." And, yes, "Funkiest Man Alive." (And, by the way, Thomas' 1967 recording "Memphis Train" arrived at No. 4 on The Commercial Appeal's 2014 list of "The 100 Best Songs About Memphis.")

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    Rufus Thomas at the WDIA Starlite Revue at the Mid-South Coliseum Saturday evening, July 1, 1972. Thomas took the stage in a shocking pink "hot pants" outfit with cape and roused the audience of 12,000 with his performance. "We do this show each year so that black crippled children will have educational opportunity," he said. "WDIA is the voice of the black community here and the station has sure been good to me." Headliners for the show were Isaac Hayes and B.B. King. (Photo: Robb Mitchell, The Commercial Appeal)

    Elvis Presley was "the King" and Isaac Hayes was "Black Moses." Thomas was more an Everyman: Balding, slightly paunchy, a working stiff (he kept his job at a textile manufacturing plant even after finding celebrity). Born in small-town Mississippi, a graduate of Booker T. Washington High School, a deejay at WDIA (the nation’s first radio station programmed for African-American audiences), a tap-dancing minstrel company comedian, a Beale Street m.c., father of a musical family (Carla, Marvell and Vaneese) and the only artist to record for all three of Memphis' greatest labels (Sun, Stax and Hi), he was some two decades older than Elvis and Isaac. But he also was a guy who could steal the show from the sexier, hotter-selling competition. (Is there any doubt that his hot pants-cape-and-go-go boots performance is the "WattStax" concert-film showstopper?) When I want to give a gift of Memphis music to a person who is not a music aficionado, and I want to be certain that they're going to love the music when they hear it, I skip Elvis and Isaac and go straight to Rufus.

    Esperanto is the name of the artificial language created to promote world harmony, but funk needs no translation. The "A Century of Funk: Rufus Thomas at 100" exhibit now on display at the Stax Museum includes the cover of a vintage Mexican-release compilation album titled "Soul!"; you don't have to be bilingual to recognize that "La Gallina Funky" and "El Pingüino Funky" are Thomas' contributions. Director Jim Jarmusch recognized this when he gave Thomas a cameo in his 1989 made-in-Memphis movie, "Mystery Train." When a pair of young Japanese rockabilly fans arrive at Central Station, the person who greets them is Rufus Thomas. "Thank you," the World's Oldest Teenager tells the young people, in Japanese, as if it were the most natural thing in the whole wide funky world.

    Source : http://www.commercialappeal.com/story/entertainment/2017/03/24/beifuss-file-100-years-funk-rufus-thomas-centennial-stax-soul/99464112/