WORLD-OBITS-L ArchivesArchiver > WORLD-OBITS > 2008-03 > 1205064417
From: "Peter McCrae" <>
Subject: [W-OBITS] OWENS: Clive Owens 2008
Date: Sun, 9 Mar 2008 12:06:57 -0000
Last Updated: 2:24am GMT 03/03/2008
Calvin Owens, who died on February 21 aged 78, was best known as the
trumpet-playing leader of the blues star BB King's accompanying band between
1978 and 1984.
These were years of great international success for King, who performed to
large crowds throughout the United States, the Far East and Europe,
including the Soviet Union.
In that time millions of people will have responded to Owens's rousing
introductory routine before the star's appearance: "He's comin'!"
(applause); "He can't hear ya!" (louder applause); "He still can't hear ya!"
(wild applause and cheering). This went on until a satisfactory level of
hysteria was achieved, at which point King would come on to the stage with
Calvin Owens was born in the poor Sawdust Alley quarter of Houston, Texas,
on April 23 1929. As a child he shined shoes and did odd jobs in a bowling
alley. At 13 he began learning the trumpet at school and left home four
years later to tour with a series of travelling shows, including Leonard
Duncan's Harlem Revue and the Brown Skin Models Revue.
He gained a reputation as a strong soloist while working at Houston's
Eldorado Ballroom and this led, in 1953, to his first spell with BB King,
first as a band member and later as musical director. A falling-out led to
his leaving after four years and he returned to Houston, where he worked for
a while as a technician in the Maxwell House coffee plant.
Owens's strength as a player, together with the skills of arranging and
band-leading which he had acquired with King, led eventually to a steady
freelance career in and around Houston, particularly in the city's
burgeoning recording studios.
During the 1960s he recorded with T-Bone Walker, Amos Milburn, Junior
Parker, Arnett Cobb, David "Fathead" Newman and many other blues and R&B
In 1978, with their old differences forgotten, Owens rejoined BB King for
what he later described wryly as "round two". The six years of their second
partnership constituted the high point of his career, the best souvenir of
which is King's excellent 1983 album Blues 'n' Jazz, which won a Grammy
Award in that year.
Leaving King at the close of his 1984 European tour, Owens settled in
Belgium. His reason for doing so, he explained rather mysteriously, was "to
clean up my deficiencies". While in Belgium he married his third wife and
set up his own recording and publishing company, Sawdust Alley Productions.
He returned to Houston in 1997 and quickly re-established himself in the
city's musical life. He formed a big band, the Calvin Owens Blues Orchestra,
and made a speciality of combining blues with Latin culture.
He made the first-ever blues albums in Spanish, Es Tu Booty, and, in
collaboration with the saxophonist Evelyn Rubio, La Mujer que Canta Blues.
He set up the Sawdust Alley Foundation, dedicated to preserving the blues in
Calvin Owens was married four times. He is survived by two of his former
wives and by six children.
|[W-OBITS] OWENS: Clive Owens 2008 by "Peter McCrae" <>|