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The Baby Huey Story


Baby Huey
The Baby Huey Story - The Living Legend

1. LISTEN TO ME 6:35
(M. Johnson)

(J. Ramey)

(S. Cooke) (Kags Music-BMI)

(C. Mayfield)

5. HARD TIMES* 3:19
(C. Mayfield)

(J. Phillips) (Wingate Music-ASCAP)

7. RUNNING* 3:36
(C. Mayfield)

(J. Ramey)

Reissue produced by Pat Thomas

Mastered by Gary Hobish
Director of Creative Merchandising & Packaging: Milton Sincoff
Art direction by Michael Mendel
Reissue art direction by Patrick Roques
Baby Huey in NYC photos from the Danny Krivit archives
with special thanks to Monk-One at Wax Poetics
*Published by Carnad Music—BMI

This Record Is A Treasure
"Some down-home people if I ever been with some... I remember we used to play in the sandbox together."

James Thomas Ramey. He is big Baby Huey and he is 400 pounds of Soul. He was born in the small town of Richmond, Indiana, where the first incarnation of his band, the Babysitters coalesced. By 1963 they were headed for Chi Town/Chicago. At that point a quartet, the only original member that made it onto this record, other than Huey himself, was one Melvin "Deacon" Jones, a cat who would later play with Freddie King and John Lee Hooker. Soon, Baby Huey and the Babysitters started playing regularly at the North Side joint, Thumbs Up, or in fact, wherever else a paying gig could be had. High schools, weddings, your mother's house, you name it they'd play it. By the mid-to-late 60s they were ten folks strong playing classic New York venues like Trudy Heller's or Cheetah (a club that hosted such diverse acts as The Nazz, Linda Ronstadt and the Stone Poneys, pre-mullet Bob Seger, and Sam and Dave), as well as Legal Aid Society functions, and evening cruises around the island of Manhattan. The band was even flown to Paris to play at a debutante party for one of the daughters of the banking/wine-making and all around extra-loaded Rothschild family.

The impressive thing about Baby Huey is that his music seemed to move between worlds with ease. He and his Babysitters were equally comfortable playing the most down-home blues joint in town or the stiffest, honkiest mixer uptown. Less than five years after Huey's death, when the original Hip Hop DJ, a Jamaican born cat living in the Bronx, calling himself Kool Here, started mixing two copies of "Listen To Me," playing that frantic break over and over, the hardest kids in the South Bronx would be going crazy. Supposedly the opening cut from The Baby Huey Story actually inspired riotous behavior at some of these early Hip Hop parties. The same jam would get the mostly white teenybopper crowds at Cheetah, or the Baron de Rothschild's daughter grooving as well. "Listen To Me" was later sampled on Eric B. & Rakim's 1988 classic "Follow The Leader."

Next we get the first of three instrumental cuts, the Huey-penned, organ-driven "Mama Get Yourself Together" followed by the nothing less than the epic, stoned, silly and heart-wrenching take on Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Going To Come."

On the original LP, Side Two kicked off with the first of three Curtis Mayfield tunes, the killer "Mighty Mighty." With an adorable intro, hilarious raps and that handclap groove, this version might outshine the one on the Impressions 1969 hit long player The Young Mod's Forgotten Story. Really, though, it's a whole different beast.

Next up are some of the most oft sampled opening bars in history. A Tribe Called Quest used "Hard Times" in their classic "Can I Kick It?" and everyone from Ice Cube to the Alkaholics, to more recent practitioners of crate digging like the People Under The Stairs, have used portions of this funk classic.

The Babysitters then proceed to rip through an instrumental version the Mamas & the Papas hit, "California Dreamin'" with some killer flute provided by Othello Anderson.

"Running" just might be the tastiest jam on here, with its psych guitar intro and driving beat, just try not to get down.

By the final cut, the swinging instrumental "One Dragon, Two Dragon" you can dig why Baby Huey played cruises and galas, that "society" stuff. It's the total cruiseship mellow groover. The first set is over, y'all get yourselves a drink, Baby Huey's gonna be back after a short break. Unfortunately, I don't think they serve Thunderbird around these parts.

Baby Huey & The Babysitters were the shit back when a real, raging band would be the evening's entertainment. Can you imagine these guys rocking a corporate function in 2004? They'd make that limp rock and soul cracker cover band in them cheap white suits cry. Not many bands (in however many incarnations) could or can survive as a live touring act for seven long years without releasing an album. You know these MoFo's were tight, nuf said.

This is the sole LP from Mr. James "Baby Huey" Ramey. Huey himself never got to see it.

He died October 28, 1970 (mere weeks after the deaths of Janis Joplin and Huey's friend, Jimi Hendrix) in a South Side Chicago motel, of heart failure, either weight-related, drug-related or both depending on who you ask. This record is a treasure. It's just a shame he never got that second set down on wax.

Paul Brookside

The Baby Huey Story

Baby Huey (James Thomas Ramey) was more than just another entertainer to me as his manager. Jimmy, as I referred to him, was a friend who was very sincere and sensitive to the world around him. I knew him during his up and down periods, his heartaches, his problems, his loves, fears and worries. I knew him as a very real person and not just another puppet to be dangled on a stage. He said what he felt and truly felt everything he said. Jimmy's biggest problem was that he let too many people lean on him with their problems even though his own were so great. This depression brought on him was just too great for one man to carry no matter how big you are. Jimmy loved so many things but, I guess his greatest loves were his family, especially his mother, his girl Lynn, and close friends, and most of all his band the "Babysitters."

I remember so many of the good times, the laughs, the excitement when he first appeared on national television on the Merv Griffin show, his smile, the way he rapped to his audiences about life around them, Paris France, recording sessions, and of course Huey being Huey. Then, I remember the sad times when he wept to me like a little child and confided so many things to me. He wished that the people that he knew and loved, his kind of people, would wake up to the dangers of drugs. I only hope that you the listener can through this album hear and listen to Huey the man, the artist, and most of all a fellow human being, and that through this beginning his name and his music will go on forever with his band the Babysitters.

In closing to Jimmy (Huey), you'll always live forever in the hearts of everyone who laughed with you, cried with you, and that part of us that died with you. God Bless You.

Your Manager
Marv Stuart

Big Baby Huey Dead

CHICAGO—"I'm Big Baby Huey, and I'm 400 pounds of soul. I'm like fried chicken, girls, I'm finger-lickin" good." That was the rap that started the congas and drums rolling, the trumpet and sax blowing, and Baby Huey and the Babysitters rocking into "Mighty, Mighty, Spade and Whitey" in Chicago, New York, Paris and L.A.

But no more. Baby Huey is dead.

James T. Ramey came to Chicago seven years ago from Richmond, Indiana, and took the name Baby Huey from the comic strip. He was a 350-pound mountain who did Beatle's songs at Thumbs Up, a highly visual R&B lounge act fronted by this fat man tenor. Soon he was in New York: Trudy Heller's, Cheetah, Ungano's. Baron de Rothschild saw him and asked him to play at his daughter's deb party in Paris. He toured European rock clubs, did the Merv Griffin Show, and the Whisky in Los Angeles. Huey was the best known unknown in Chicago—his appearance always drew the other musicians in town. He began to develop his own material, but though his recording of "Mighty Mighty" two years ago didn't get off the ground, his reputation was building across the country.

Huey was in Chicago to finish an album on Curtis Mayfield's Curtom label. "He was always sensitive about his weight, but it was a gland problem that he couldn't control. He was having a problem, too, with a woman and he took his friend Jimi Hendrix' death hard. When Jimi died Huey told me that he wanted to preach against heavy drugs in his stage rap. I thought he was going to be OK."

Baby Huey, 26, was found dead October 28th on the bathroom floor of a South side motel.

Huey was buried October 31st in Richmond, Indiana. He is survived by his parents, three sisters and a brother. The Babysitters performed at the service.

— By Marshall Rosenthal
Rolling Stone Magazine November 26, 1970

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