The Story of Little Melvin

Melvin Underwood was born on December 24, 1935 in a little Mississippi town called Mt. Helen. He was raised under the old time Baptist Church and his mother, who was a sharecropper, moved the family to Vicksburg, where Melvin got his first earful of music. Clarence Gatemouth Brown came to town and had just recorded a tune called "Okee Dokee Stomp" and as Melvin puts it, "He okee dokee stomped it." That night Melvin decided that was what he wanted to do, got himself a second hand guitar and harmonica, and taught himself to play. Within one year, he formed a little group and got some work at a little club in Tululu, Louisiana. From there he worked venues, other towns, and finally ended up in Monroe, Louisiana, where he stayed for several years.

It was there in Monroe, where Melvin heard B.B. King when he came to town and where their eventual friendship began. One night B.B. invited Melvin to play on stage with his big band. And as Little Melvin tells it, "the whole world just lit up for me." After that, whenever B.B. played in Monroe (on the weekend), he would stay over and come to Melvin's Monday night gigs, and would in turn sit in with Melvin's band.

After that, Melvin met and became friends with many other artists like: Bobby Bland, Little Jr. Parker, Rocco Gordon, Larry Birdsong, Jimmy Beck and Jimmy Reed. Through the years he worked and toured with many of these artists and eventually a friend of his, Otis Jackson, introduced Melvin to Ivory Joe Hunter. Ivory Joe needed a backup group and Little Melvin's band was the strongest band around.

Melvin toured with Ivory Joe for a few years and at a hectic pace which took them all over the country... from Atlanta, Georgia, they hit L.A and Lake Charles... then Orange, Texas, Beaumont, Houston, Corpus Christie, San Antonio, Curryville, and back to Houston. He met and played with Little Willie John in Memphis, Tennessee and Amarillo, Texas. There were many gigs in places around the country. Finally, a couple of bad car accidents and Ivory Joe's heart trouble put the band out of commission for a while.

After that, Melvin went on by himself to live and work in Florida. It was a frantic schedule of endless one nighters which was hard for Melvin at that time, because his wife was very sick with cancer. After working all around Florida, Melvin continued on to Indiana, then Asbury Park, New Jersey, and up into Quebec, finally settling in Lakewood, New Jersey. After the death of his brother, Melvin slowed down for some years. "I just drifted for a while, but I finally came back to earth... Thank God for that. Now I'm back and ready to go! And I hope this CD tells a story for a whole bunch of people. Listen carefully. You'll be hearing a lot from Little Melvin. Hang in there."


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