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Profile: Joe Tex


Profile: Joe Tex

Joe Tex


Claims to fame:

  • The godfather of "Southern Soul"
  • A peer of James Brown who was considered by some to be his equal
  • One of the first artists to merge soul with funk
  • Also one of the first to merge country and soul
  • A preacher who used his storytelling ability to great dramatic and comedic effect
  • One of the first rockers to convert to Islam


Born: Joseph Arrington, Jr., August 8, 1933 in Baytown, TX; died August 13, 1982, Navasota, TX

Styles: Soul, Funk, R&B, Dance

Instruments: Vocals

Early years:

Joe Tex's early career is emblematic of black musicians of his era. Raised in Texas, he began by singing in the church choir, then won talent shows, first in nearby Houston, then later at the famed Apollo Theater Amateur Night (which he won four times!). All of this activity got him signed to King Records in 1955, but the right combination of producer and song eluded him for a decade as he recorded over 30 sides on the Ace, Anna, Parrot, and Checker labels without scoring one hit. However, rising soul star James Brown had a hit with Tex' own "Baby You're Right" in 1962, which led to his signing with Dial.


Dial set Tex up with the musicians in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, who were producing some of the hard, countryish soul that was beginning to find favor with audiences. Soon, borrowing on his own gospel experience and love of country storytelling, Tex began to score hits both preachy and comic on the R&B charts -- a feat even more impressive given that Tex was prone to writing and releasing six to seven singles a year! Though too rough musically and lyrically for the pop charts, Joe was considered one of the soul giants of the day. His novelty-esque "Skinny Legs And All" became his biggest pop hit to date in 1967.

Later years:

Tex continued scoring hits by moving into the deeper waters of funk, including his biggest, 1972's outrageous smash "I Gotcha." Soon after, however, he converted to Islam, took the name Yusef Hazziez, and quit the business. He returned in 1975 after Elijah Muhammad died and the Nation of Islam movement gave him permission to record again; he made one more big splash with the disco joke "Ain't Gonna Bump No More (With No Big Fat Woman)," but his run was mostly over. Tex retired in 1979 and died in 1982 at the age of 49, suffering a heart attack at his Texas ranch less than 100 miles from his birthplace.

Joe Tex on video:

"Shindig!" (1965), "Hullabaloo" (1966), "Ready, Steady, Go!" (1965, 1966), "Where The Action Is" (1965, 1967), "The Merv Griffin Show" (1968), "The Johnny Cash Show" (1969), "The Barbara McNair Show" (1969), "Get It Together" (1970), "The Mike Douglas Show" (1970), "Soul Train" (1971, 1972), "The 20th Annual Grammy Awards" (1978), "Musikladen" (1979)

Other Joe Tex facts and trivia:

  • Maintained a personal feud with James Brown for many years; each considered the other a pale imitation
  • Was actually not a fan of his breakthrough "Hold What You've Got" and didn't want it released
  • Tex would, in the Sixties, record while his voice was hoarse to make it sound grittier
  • His 1966 single "I Believe I'm Gonna Make It" was one of the first popular songs about the war in Vietnam
  • "Skinny Legs" was presented as a live recording, but the "crowd" noise was actually added later when the producer threw a party in the studio
  • Wilson Pickett and Ben E. King were two of the pallbearers at Tex's funeral

Covered by:

Rockpile, Hank Williams Jr., Katie Webster, Sonny James, Carly Simon, Barbara Jones, Salt-N-Pepa, Liza Minnelli, Jimmy Barnes, Oliver Morgan, Irma Thomas, Marcia Ball, Tracy Nelson, Kenny Vance, The Persuasions, Nazareth

Joe Tex hit singles and albums:

#1 R&B singles:
"Hold What You've Got" (1964)
"I Want To (Do Everything For You)" (1965)
"A Sweet Woman Like You" (1966)
"I Gotcha" (1972)

Top 10 Pop singles:
"Hold What You've Got" (1964)
"Skinny Legs And All" (1967)
"I Gotcha" (1972)

Top 10 R&B singles:
"You Got What It Takes" (1965)
"The Love You Save (May Be Your Own)" (1966)
"S.Y.S.L.J.F.M.(The Letter Song)" (1966)
"I Believe I'm Gonna Make It" (1966)
"Skinny Legs And All" (1967)
"Men Are Gettin' Scarce" (1968)
"Buying A Book" (1969)
"Ain't Gonna Bump No More (With No Big Fat Woman)" (1976)

Top 10 R&B albums:
Hold On To What You've Got (1965)
The New Boss (1965)

Other important songs by Joe Tex: "All I Could Do Was Cry (Part 1)," "Baby You're Right," "I Met Her In Church," "I Let Her Get Away," "Someone To Take Your Place," "You Keep Her," "I've Got A Song," "I Should Have Kissed Her More," "I Wanna Be Free," "Looking For My Pig," "I Had A Good Thing But I Left (Part 1)," "Sit Yourself Down," "I'd Rather Have You," "You Better Get It," "A Woman Can Change A Man," "Don't Let Your Left Hand Know," "One Monkey Don't Stop No Show," "I've Got To Do A Little Bit Better," "Papa Was, Too," "Show Me," "Woman Like That, Yeah," "A Woman's Hands," "I'll Never Do You Wrong," "Keep The One You Got," "You Need Me, Baby," "That's Your Baby," "Buying A Book," "Say Thank You," "That's The Way," "It Ain't Sanitary," "I Can't See You No More (When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again)," "Everything Happens On Time," "I'll Never Fall In Love Again," "Bad Feet," "Papa's Dream," "Give The Baby Anything The Baby Wants," "A Mother's Prayer," "You Said A Bad Word," "Rain Go Away," "Woman Stealer," "All The Heaven A Man Really Needs," "Trying To Win Your Love," "Under Your Powerful Love," "I'm Going Back Again," "Have You Ever," "Mama Red," "Hungry For Your Love," "Rub Down," "Loose Caboose"

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