Lil Greenwood “My Last Hour” 1952

lilgreen.jpeg4-jacks-federal-12082.jpg Lil Greenwood & Four Jacks

On Apr. 28 1952, the Four Jacks were paired with Lil Greenwood (RN: Lillian B. Greenwood; b: Mobile, AL; 1923) who had been discovered by Roy Milton in Oakland in about 1950 and who backed her on several singles for the Modern label as Lillie Greenwood. In 1951, Greenwood signed to Specialty. “I wasn’t under contract to any label,” Greenwood told Todd Baptista for the book, “Last Of the Good Rockin’ Men.”

“I think Ralph Bass wanted to try to have me record for Federal Records, like he had Little Esther. She was popular and they wanted to do the same thing,” matching her with the Four Jacks as Little Esther had been with both the Robins and with the Dominoes.

On “Grandpa Can Boogie Too,” Greenwood stated it was very much like “Grandma Plays the Numbers” by Wynonie Harris, both songs being on the sister King and Federal labels. “I remember that song by Wynonie Harris. What they did was just rewrite it to fit a female lead. They gave us the songs and maybe I was rehearsing my part on my own and they were rehearsing their part. Then, we’d get together in the studio. Sometimes they would overdub a group and you wouldn’t even know who they were.”On “Monday Morning Blues,” Greenwood sang with Little Willie Littlefield and the Four Jacks, while on “My Last Hour,” she was backed by the Four Jacks only.Several of these records died on the vine when Hunter Hancock, citing racy lyrics, said he couldn’t play “The Last Of the Good Rockin’ Men” or “Sure Cure For the Blues.” After these sides by the Four Jacks failed, Bass turned his attention to the Lamplighters, whom he paired with Greenwood and who later recorded close approximations of songs by fellow Federal artists, the Midnighters, replicating the Wynonie Harris/Four Jacks sound-a-like pattern.

All of these Four Jacks efforts were bootlegged on 45 rpm in about 1970 with a host of other Federal label vocal groups.

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