Music History Of The Week

Music History Archive

For news, music history archives and a weekly original mini track: The Email Newsletter

Amos Milburn


Amos Milburn was born on 01/04/1927 in Houston, Texas. His full birth name was Joseph Amos Milburn Jr. He was one of thirteen children. By the time he was five he was playing tunes on the piano. At the age of fifteen, Amos enlisted in the US Navy. He earned thirteen battle stars in the Philippines. When he returned to Houston, he formed a sixteen-piece band and would play the various clubs in the city. He was managed by William and Geneva Church.
In 1946, Milburn attracted the attention of a woman who arranged a recording session with Aladdin Records in Los Angeles. Milburn would stay with Aladdin for eight years. He would record more than 75 sides for them.
In 1949, seven of Amos's singles got the attention of the R&B audience. The songs "Hold Me Baby" and "Chicken Shack Boogie" (released in 1948) were at numbers eight and nine on Billboard's 1949 R&B best-sellers.
Amos was a popular touring artist and was one of the main performers in the Central Avenue music scene. He won the Best Blues and Jazz Star award from Down Beat magazine and Top R&B Artist award in Billboard magazine. One of his most popular songs was "One Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer".
In 1950, Milburn's song "Bad, Bad, Whiskey" reached number one on the R&B chart. Milburn recorded several drinking songs, several of which were composed by Rudy Toombs. There is no evidence that Milburn had a drinking problem.
In 1952, Milburn recorded more drinking songs such as "Thinking and Drinking" and "Trouble in Mind". He toured the country playing clubs. Whilst in the Midwest he announced the disbandment of his combo to continue as a solo act. That autumn he joined Charles Brown for a tour of the south.
In 1956, after three years performing solo, Milburn returned to Houston to re-form his band.
In 1957, his releases did not perform as well as before and Aladdin Records terminated his contract. Milburn released some records for Ace Records but failed to recapture the success of his earlier career.
In 1972, Milburn made his final recording when he recorded for and album by Johnny Otis. Milburn had suffered a stroke and had Otis play the left-hand piano parts for him. Milburn later suffered a second stroke and had his leg amputated due to circulatory problems.
On 03/01/1980, Amos passed away.
In 2010, Amos Milburn was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame.