Throwback: Reuben Wilson-Hot Rod


Reuben Wilson is a former professional boxer who was born in Oklahoma but raised in Pasadena, California. As a teenager he was interested in music and boxing. He spent some time in Los Angeles working as an organist at the Caribbean Club. A short stay in Las Vegas was not successful so he moved back to L.A. and became friends with Richard “Groove” Holmes who became a great influence on his style. In the late ’60’s he moved to New York City and formed the Wildare Express which was a trio. The group didn’t last but he was soon playing with artists like Grant Green, Roy Haynes and Sam Rivers. Blue Note offered him a contract and he recorded five albums of soul-jazz material for them between 1968 and 1971. “Hot Rod” was a self-written composition from his 1969 Love Bug album. When his music came out it wasn’t heralded but years later he would be rediscovered by UK DJ Gilles Peterson who used his music among others
to coin the term acid jazz. “Got To Get Your Own,” “Ronnie’s Bonnie,” “Inner City Blues” and “We’re In Love” have all become inspirations and samples in contemporary music.
The organist retired from music in the ’80’s and started recording again in the late ’90’s. Azure Te from 2009 on the 19th and Vine label is his more recent release.