Chuck Norris – After Hours

10th July 2022 · 1950s, 1951, Blues, Music, Rock'n'Roll

Chuck Norris didn’t do karate but he earned his chops playing session guitar in California in the late 1940s and early 1950s. He also cut a handful of solo singles like this.

He’s another of those links between the blues and soul at the time when jazzy jump blues was evolving into R&B and thence into rock’n’roll. And he was as good a guitarist as anyone.

A highly respected session man, he spent most of his career content to accompany singers like Floyd Dixon and Percy Mayfield – and playing in the Johnny Otis Orchestra.

Considered a prototype West Coast bluesman, Charles “Chuck” Norris was actually born in the blues- and jazz-heavy town of Kansas City and raised in the equally musical metropolis of Chicago.

After a failed marriage he moved out to the West Coast, gigging at night and playing session guitar in studios by day – and recording a handful of solo singles like this.

The best-known Norris tracks include titles such as Messin’ Up, the melancholy slow blues Kinda Sick, Mostly Worried and the philosophical What’s Good for One’s Good for All.

Some of his best playing was on records by brilliant black performers who were in the process of extending the blues into innovative realms like Percy Mayfield, who sang the gruelling Two Years of Torture with Norris aided and abetted by saxmen Marshall Royal and Maxwell Davis.

At one point the Johnny Otis Orchestra – something of a training school for musicians of the era – featured not only Norris but the amazing Johnny “Guitar” Watson as well.

Norris also worked with Amos Milburn, Dinah Washington – on the filthy Long John Blues – and Little Richard. He died in 1989 at his home in California.