Tommy Ridgley is a
real New Orleans legend, having remained active as a popular
lead singer and bandleader for almost 50 years following his
1949 Imperial Records debut.
With a style based on
the genre of jump blues that preceded the emergence of rhythm &
blues in the early 1950s, he was well-suited to pleasing
audiences in New Orleans and throughout the Gulf South as a
bandleader, R&B stylist, and serious blues belter.
And uniquely among New
Orleans R&B legends, Tommy Ridgley remained upbeat and
enthusiastic throughout the entirety of his life, cutting what
some critics regard as his very best recordings in the 1990s
before his passing on August 11, 1999.
How Long? is a unique
achievement in that recorded legacy, because Tommy Ridgley was
involved in each and every creative aspect, from start to
“This is the first
time I’ve built an album up from scratch,” Ridgley told New
Orleans music historian Jeff Hannusch. “Not only did I write
most of the material, but this is really the first time I had a
direct hand in the production.”
This is a stone-cold
classic of certified R&B roots, a rocking masterpiece complete
with upbeat blues and plaintive ballads, bursting horn charts
and swaying vocal choruses, pounding rhythms and intimate
lyrics, plus razor-sharp solos from both sax and guitar.
The result is a
classic recording that fully embodies that glorious era of the
late 1940s and early 1950s when almost all of modern popular
music was just being born.