Throwback: Baby Huey-Hard Times

James T. Ramey’s chapter in soul music as Baby Huey and the Babysitters is one of premature death and unrealized potential.  The self-described “400 pounds of soul” man was a Curtis Mayfield protegé on the verge of stardom before he died in a hotel room in Chicago at the age of 26 from a drug-related heart attack. His medically-related weight struggles and depression gave insight into his ability to add so much emotional depth into his music despite being so young. Baby Huey’s cover of Mayfield’s “Hard Times” has a vintage rank even though it is an obscure piece of music. His vocal delivery was as towering as standing figure and attracted immediate comparisons to Otis Redding. He improvised some of the lyrics and vividly depicted the tough circumstances as a time of “Eatin’ Spam and Oreos and drinkin’ Thunderbird baby.” Huey and his band traveled the world and played everywhere they could from 1963 until his death in 1970. He had recorded most of his debut album, The Baby Huey Story: The Living Legend for Mayfield’s Curtom label passing a year before its scheduled release.”Hard Times” has become his most popular song and an underground classic used by  rappers from A Tribe Called Quest to a John Legend and The Roots cover.

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