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From then on in, me and Sonny started makin' records. My first records, Sonny was backin' me up. Sonny wasn't singin' natural at the time; he was singin' falsetto - Brownie McGhee

Author Topic: Ransom Knowling  (Read 5674 times)

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Offline Stefan Wirz

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Ransom Knowling
« on: June 26, 2006, 08:52:56 AM »
driven by the fact that there's obviously not one single picture on the internet showing the influential bassist Ransom Knowling, I searched through my literature and eventually found one in the (long out of print) German magazine Blues Forum (#2 1980) showing him with Tampa Red et al. 1950


Johnny Jones, Ransom Knowling, Tampa Red, Odie Payne; RCA-Studio, Chicago, 1950


Question: Isn't there somewhere a pic of Ransom Knowling tickling the strings of his sb, leave alone blowing his bb?

(Come on, 'Bunker Hill', show us what your brain is able 'waving' while thinking about those days in 1964 when the American Blues & Gospel Caravan went by your home town and what diverse Jazz and Blues magazines had to say reviewing this event ;-)

Stefan

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Ransom Knowling
« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2006, 10:03:17 AM »
Question: Isn't there somewhere a pic of Ransom Knowling tickling the strings of his sb, leave alone blowing his bb?
(Come on, 'Bunker Hill', show us what your brain is able 'waving' while thinking about those days in 1964 when the American Blues & Gospel Caravan went by your home town and what diverse Jazz and Blues magazines had to say reviewing this event ;-)
Hey the only one I can think of with bass was taken by Rae Flerlage in the 60s and used in the "Caravan" tour program, later to turn up in the gatefold sleeve of the 1970 Arthur Crudup RCA LP Father Of Rock & Roll. I can scan it from LP if you wish.

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Ransom Knowling
« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2006, 11:06:11 AM »
No sooner mentioned than actioned

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Ransom Knowling
« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2006, 11:54:15 AM »
When touring Europe in 1964 those who attempted to interview him found it hard going. I seem to remember a rather terse interview (conducted with Georges Adins) appearing in an issue of Blues Unlimited. Mike Vernon once told me that when he recorded Otis Spann with Knowling, Muddy and Willie Smith for Decca in London, Knowling was a consumate musician with "attitude". Knowling's death in Chicago (22 Oct 1967) received notices in a French and a German Jazz mag, along with a couple of lines in Down Beat's "Final Bar" column, and they were it as far as I'm aware.

Offline dj

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Re: Ransom Knowling
« Reply #4 on: June 26, 2006, 02:45:31 PM »
I knew I'd seen another one:  there's a picture of Merline Johnson, Lester Melrose, and Ransom Knowling on page 127 of the 1992 Da Capo Press version of Big Bill Blues.  Sorry, but I can't scan it - the software on my laptop refuses to talk to my printrer/scanner.

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Ransom Knowling
« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2006, 10:16:20 AM »
Forgotten about that. My problem is that I only own a 1957 Jazz Book Club edition and attempting to scan the photos (which are beautifully reproduced on glossy paper in sections throughout the book) only succeeds in revealling the "screening" used by the printing process - everybody becomes "dotty", even at 300dpi.

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Ransom Knowling
« Reply #6 on: September 09, 2006, 08:02:54 AM »
Thought I'd reactivate this in light of having come across the following anonymous "obituary" in Blues World 19 April 1968:

The list of deaths of leading blues artists continues to grow at an alarming
rate. One man who has recently died, and who is completely irreplaceable,
has received, as far as I know, little more than a passing mention. That man
is one of the undeniable giants of the blues, an artist of impeccable
reliability. Ransom Knowling was a man small in stature, great in charm;
quiet in disposition, fantastic in performance. Through the great period of
swinging blues recordings, Ransom Knowling's bass could be heard and felt
driving, pulsating and uplifting the greatest records. He was seldom
featured, but was instantly recognisable.

No-one could match his drive and propulsive strutting swing. Even on his
records with Tommy McClennan, hardly the easiest man to accompany, Knowling never faltered. And on Robert Nighthawk's "Kansas City Blues" on United, the colossal beat, and incredible dexterity is scarcely believable.

With so much of present-day blues bogged down with the unswingable
electric-bass (a monstrously bad influence this thing has had on blues
performances with its springless plod and lack of reverbatory impulse) the
loss of the first gentleman of the bass is tragic indeed. Ransom, we
shall never look on your like again. Our loss is great indeed.

Offline dj

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Re: Ransom Knowling
« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2007, 02:05:25 PM »
There's a picture of Ransom Knowling, Willie Smith, and Muddy Waters on stage in England in 1964 in White Bicycles:  Making Music in the 1960s by Joe Boyd.


Offline Rivers

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Re: Ransom Knowling
« Reply #8 on: December 22, 2007, 09:02:22 AM »
This is a great thread, I missed it first time around. I was doing a search on Ransom Knowling since I'd never seen a picture of him and he's clearly one of the all time great sidemen. This thread came up on google, thanks for scanning the photos guys.

The index to accompanists in B&GR which ends in 1943 has him listed on bass and brass bass (tuba) for these artists:
Big Bill, Big Maceo, Doctor Clayton, Arthur Crudup, Champion Jack Dupree, Jazz Gillum, Lil Green, Harlem Hamfats, Frankie Jaxon, George Jefferson(?), Merline Johnson, Curtis Jones, Tommy McClennan, Joe McCoy, Jimmy McClain(?), Minnie Mathes(?), Tampa Red, Johnnie Temple, Washboard Sam, Casey Bill, Sonny Boy Williamson.

It might be nice to list post-1943 people not on that list he accompanied. A quick search turns up Elmore James, Muddy Waters, Little Brother Montgomery, Big Joe Williams, SBW2, Rosetta Tharp, Otis Spann, Johnny Jones, Sunnyland Slim, Memphis Slim, T-Bone Walker.

Does it say in the book where the picture above from Big Bill Blues with Knowling, Merline Johnson and Lester Melrose was taken? I'd not seen a pic of Melrose before either so far as I remember.
« Last Edit: December 22, 2007, 09:42:03 AM by Rivers »

Offline Richard

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Re: Ransom Knowling
« Reply #9 on: December 22, 2007, 01:23:30 PM »
In the Blues 1943-70 discography he seems to get a mention on some 40+ pages dotted throughout the book so it seems fair to say he recorded a lot!
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline dj

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Re: Ransom Knowling
« Reply #10 on: December 22, 2007, 01:57:24 PM »
Quote
Does it say in the book where the picture above from Big Bill Blues with Knowling, Merline Johnson and Lester Melrose was taken? I'd not seen a pic of Melrose before either so far as I remember.

No, no mention of when or where the picture was taken.  But there's another picture of Melrose, this time with Tampa Red, on the facing page of the same book (Big Bill Blues).  So there are at least 2 in existence.

Offline Bricktown Bob

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Re: Ransom Knowling
« Reply #11 on: December 22, 2007, 03:32:27 PM »
Recorded quite a lot with Memphis Minnie in 1946-47.  As did Blind John Davis and Judge Riley.  How's that for a rhythm section?

Offline Stefan Wirz

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Re: Ransom Knowling
« Reply #12 on: June 25, 2018, 01:08:35 AM »
Jim O'Neal just informed me that Ransom Knowling wasn't born in New Orleans (as all existing internet sources, including Wikipedia, claim --- and me I parroted in my "Blues sidepersons" page at www.wirz.de/music/sidemen.htm), but in Vicksburg, Mississippi - Just sayin'