Big Jay McNeely

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Big Jay McNeely

Biography Discography Videos


Official WebsiteOfficial Website
The Doo-Wop Society of Southern California: Big Jay McNeelyThe Doo-Wop Society of Southern California: Big Jay McNeely

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His mighty tenor sax squawking and bleating with wild-eyed abandon, Big Jay McNeely blew up a torrid R & B tornado from every conceivable position -- on his knees, on his back, being wheeled down the street on an auto mechanic's "creeper" like a modern-day pied piper. As one of the titans who made tenor sax the solo instrument of choice during rock's primordial era, McNeely could peel the paper right off the walls with his sheets of squealing, honking horn riffs.

Cecil McNeely and his older brother Bob (who blew baritone sax lines with Jay in unison precision on some of Jay's hottest instrumentals) grew up in Los Angeles, where jazz reigned on Watts' bustling nightlife strip. Inspired by Illinois Jacquet and tutored by Jack McVea, McNeely struck up a friendship with Johnny Otis, co-owner of the popular Barrelhouse. Ralph Bass, a friend of Otis, produced McNeely's debut date for Savoy Records in 1948 (Savoy boss Herman Lubinsky tagged the saxist Big Jay, in his eyes a more commercial name than Cecil). McNeely's raucous one-note honking on "The Deacon's Hop" gave him and Savoy an R & B chart-topper in 1949, and his follow-up, "Wild Wig," also hit big for the young saxist with the acrobatic stage presence.

From Savoy, McNeely moved to Exclusive in 1949, Imperial in 1950-1951, King's Federal subsidiary in 1952-1954 (where he cut some of his wildest waxings, including the mind-boggling "3-D"), and Vee-Jay in 1955. McNeely's live shows were the stuff that legends are made of -- he electrified a sweaty throng of thousands packing L.A.'s Wrigley Field in 1949 by blowing his sax up through the stands and then from home plate to first base on his back! A fluorescently painted sax that glowed in the dark was another of his showstopping gambits.

In 1958, McNeely cut his last hit in a considerably less frantic mode with singer Little Sonny Warner. The bluesy "There Is Something on Your Mind" was committed to tape in Seattle but came out on disc jockey Hunter Hancock's Swingin' imprint the next year. McNeely's original was a huge smash, but it was eclipsed the following year by New Orleans singer Bobby Marchan's dramatic R & B chart-topping version for Fire. Since then, it's been covered countless times, including a fine rendition by Conway Twitty! Honking saxists had fallen from favor by the dawn of the '60s, so McNeely eventually became a mailman and joined Jehovah's Witnesses (no, that's not the name of a combo). Happily, his horn came back out of the closet during the early '80s. McNeely went on to record for his own little label and tour the country and overseas regularly.

-- Bill Dahl of All Music Guide.

Janice's Notes . . .

Big Jay McNeely was the star of the shows aboard the 'Doo-Wop Cruise' May 12-19, 2012, with Matt The Cat. I was fortunate enough to be one of the original "Night Prowlers" on board. Imagine the joy and excitement of meeting such an Icon and talking with him in person! He was as great as ever, and still going strong at the age of 85. I will always remember those performances and the cruise. I made lots of new friends aboard this cruise.

There Something On Your MindThere Something On Your Mind
All That Wine is GoneAll That Wine is Gone
Big Jay McNeely feating ray collins at Rocking Race Jamboree 2012Big Jay McNeely featuring Ray Collins at Rocking Race Jamboree 2012

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1954Big 'J' In 3-D
1955Rhythm And Blues Concert
1957Live! At Birdland: 1957
1963Big Jay McNeely 1963
1966Big Jay McNeely 1966
1984From Harlem To Camden
1988A-Z Bootin'
1994Swingin' Golden Classics
1995Blues At Daybreak
1996People Will Be People
1999Deacon's Hop Since 1949
2006Big Jay McNeely: Recorded Live At Cisco's
2007The Go! Go! Go! Man
2008The Deacon Unabridged: Volume 2 1951-52
2009King Of The Honkin' Sax
2009Party Time

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1954 Big 'J' In 3-D

01. The Goof
02. Ice Water
03. Big Jay Shuffle
04. Rock Candy
05. Whipped Cream
06. Hot Cinders
07. 3-D
08. Hard Tack
09. Nervous Man, Nervous
10. Mule Milk
11. Let's Work
12. Beachcomber

1955 Rhythm And Blues Concert

1957 Live! At Birdland: 1957

01. I Hope You're All Right
02. Insect Ball
03. Tenderly
04. Havana Hop
05. Flying Home
06. Minnie
07. Back. . .Shack. . .Track
08. Honky Tonk
09. I Got A Woman
10. Things Ain't What They Used To Be
11. How High The Moon
12. Oh, What A Fool
13. Roadhouse Boogie/Let 'Em Roll
14. There Is Something On Your Mind
15. Deacon's Hop
16. My Darling Dear

1963 Big Jay McNeely 1963

1966 Big Jay McNeely 1966

1984 From Harlem To Camden

01. Harlem Nocturne
02. Camden Bounce
03. Some Kinda Boogie
04. Just Because
05. Jumpin' With Jay
06. Strollin' Sax
07. Pembridge Court
08. Catalina Swing
09. Rockin' The Reeds

1988 A-Z Bootin'

01. Gila Moon
02. Zydeco Stroll
03. Summertime
04. Phoenix Hambone
05. All The Wine Is Gone
06. Short On Bread
07. Young Girl Blues
08. Mercury Falling
09. Mean Man Blues
10. Camelback Drive
11. Big Jay's Shuffle
12. Scooby-Doo Blues

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1994 Swingin' Golden Classics

01. Flying Home
02. There Is Something On Your Mind
03. Back. . .Shack. . .Track
04. I Got The Message
05. Psycho Serenade
06. Minnie
07. My Darling, Dear
08. Oh No, Daddy-O
09. Blue Couch Boogie
10. I Love You, Oh Darling
11. Oh, What A Fool
12. Before Midnight
13. After Midnight
14. Havana Hop
15. Annie Lou
16. Sungi Mungi

1995 Blues At Daybreak

1996 People Will Be People

1999 Deacon's Hop Since 1949

2006 Big Jay McNeely: Recorded Live At Cisco's

01. Big Jay's Shuffle
02. Perdido
03. You Don't Have To Go
04. Big Boy
05. Big Jay's Count
06. Cisco's
07. Sunset
08. Deacon's Hop
09. Further On Up The Road
10. Shake It, Shake It, Baby
11. (The Closing) The Party's Over

2007 The Go! Go! Go! Man

01. Roadhouse Boogie
02. Salt & Pepper
03. Real Crazy Cool
04. Tall Brown Woman
05. Deacon Blows For Ray
06. Deacon's Hop
07. Blow, Blow, Blow
08. The Goof
09. Body And Soul
10. Insect Ball
11. Tenderly
12. Bamboo Vamp
13. Oh What A Fool
14. You Send Me
15. There Is Something On Your Mind
16. Back. . .Shack. . .Track
17. My Darling Dear
18. Minnie
19. I Got The Message
20. Psycho Serenade

2008 The Deacon Unabridged: Volume 2 1951-52

01. Insect Ball
02. Sad Story
03. All That Wine Is gone
04. Don't Cry Baby
05. Let's Do It
06. I'll Never Love Again
07. Love From The Heart
08. Old Black Mule
09. The Deacon Blows For Ray
10. Tall Brown Woman
11. Deacon Rides Again
12. Blow, Blow, Blow
13. Jay walk
14. Night Ride
15. Jet Fury
16. Deacon's Express
17. The Goof
18. Penthouse Serenade
19. Just Crazy
20. Big Jay Shuffle

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2009 King Of The Honkin' Sax

Disc 1

01. Wild Wig
02. Sunday Dinner
03. Deacon's Groove(Cool Blood)
04. Man Eater
05. California Hop
06. Cherry Smash
07. The Deacon's Hop
08. Artie's Jump
09. Midnight Dreams
10. Blow Big Jay
11. Boogie In Front
12. Willie The Cool Cat
13. Gingercake
14. K & H Boogie
15. Roadhouse Boogie
16. Hoppin' with Hunter
17. Tondelayo
18. Junie-Flip
19. Jay's Frantic
20. Let's Split
21. Real Crazy cool
22. Deacon's Blowout
23. Insect Ball
24. Sad Story
25. All That Wine Is Gone
26. Don't Cry Baby
27. Tall Brown Woman
28. Deacon Blows For Ray
Disc 2

01. Let's Do It Over
02. I'll Never Love Again
03. Love From The Heart
04. Old Black Mule
05. Deacon Rides Again
06. Blow, Blow, Blow
07. Jay Walk
08. Night Ride
09. Jet Fury
10. Deacon's Express
11. The Good
12. Penthouse Serenade
13. Just Crazy
14. Big Jay Shuffle
15. Third Dimension (3-D)
16. Nervous Man, Nervous
17. Rock Candy
18. Texas Turkey
19. She Don't Work
20. Hot Cinders
21. Mule Milk
22. Ice Water
23. Whipped Cream
24. Beachcomber
25. Let's Work
26. Strip Tease Swing
27. Hard Tack

2009 Party Time

01. I Can't Stop Loving You
02. Dixieland Boogie
03. Big Fat Mama
04. I Want To Be With You
05. Pretty Girls Everywhere
06. Jay Meets Rinus
07. Toom Toom
08. Insect Ball
09. Get On Up And Boogie
10. Party Time
11. Big Ali
12. Critical Times
13. You Are My Life
14. I Love You So Much
15. Boogie Till The Break Of Dawn

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