Air Week: August 9-15, 2021
Arthur Lee Maye & The Crowns
Arthur Lee Maye did something that few had ever done. He concurrently had a career as a R&B singer, leading the LA-based group Arthur Lee Maye & The Crowns while also playing minor and major league baseball as an outfielder for the Milwaukee Braves. Both of his careers virtually began in 1954 and since Lee Maye was busy playing baseball from April until October, he could only make records during the off-season. These records consisted of some of the greatest West Coast Rhythm & Blues Vocal Group sounds you’re ever going to hear. Maye and the Crowns began on the Modern Records family of labels, jumping from Flair to RPM to the parent company without scoring a significant hit. Then it was off to Art Rupe’s famed Specialty Records for a one-off single, before recording a few sides for Johnny Otis’ Dig Records. Richard Berry, who famously recorded the original “Louie Louie” for Flip Records in 1956 was an original member of the group and it was also the Crowns with Lee Maye who backed Berry on his first solo sides. However, the Crowns did not receive any credit on those early Berry recordings. Several of Maye’s records; “Gloria” and “Set My Heart Free” have become vocal group classics. Matt The Cat digs in and aims for the fences this week as we present the seldom heard, but nonetheless brilliant recordings of Arthur Lee Maye and the Crowns.