Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The Men Behind The Bluesmen: Gene Nobles

Gene Nobles was born on August 3, 1913, in Hot Springs, Arkansas and he died on September 21, in 1989, in Nashville, Tennessee. He was an American radio disc jockey who became famous on Nashville radio station WLAC from the 1940s through the 1970s by playing rhythm and blues music. He is an inductee into the Blues Music Hall of Fame.

According to Wikipedia;

Nobles is credited with introducing artists such as Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, and Little Richard, to a wider audience. Before Nobles' breakthrough programming, R&B artists were heard usually by African-Americans only, who attended their performances at nightclubs on the so-called "Chitlin Circuit" and purchased their records in black-owned stores. Some conservative whites (especially segregationists) opposed the broadcast of such music, but many others purchased the R&B records and danced to them.

According to a book by Wes Smith, The Pied Pipers of Rock 'n' Roll: Radio Deejays of the 50s and 60s (Longstreet Press, 1989), Nobles had a reputation for gambling at horse tracks and drinking while on air. Neither of these vices appeared to cause him trouble with station management. In the early 1960s, Nobles drew complaints by listeners and FCC officials over a suggestive reference made while he read a commercial for White Rose Petroleum Jelly. Nobles regularly used double entendres between the records he played to accentuate his ironic, sarcastic sense of humor.

Famous Phrases

Nobles developed slang phrases which he used frequently. Some of the more famous included:

"Jerks/fillies" --boys/girls.
"From the heart of my bottom" --a suggestive inversion of the traditional testimony to sincerity.
"That's G-A-double L-A-T-I-N, folks" --spelling the name of the town where Randy's Record Shop was located in Tennessee

Books that Reference Gene Nobles

You Can Make It If You Try: The Ted Jarrett Story of R&B in Nashville

Spinning Blues into Gold: The Chess Brothers and the Legendary Chess Records

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