Tommy Tate has been called “The greatest
soul singer you've never heard of.” An almost
cult-like figure in Deep Soul, Southern
Soul, and British Northern Soul circles,
Tommy started drumming and singing in small
clubs in the Jackson, Mississippi area about
the time he was 13.
During the 1960s, he
recorded singles for ABC-Paramount, Okeh,
Verve, Swing, Atco, Big Ten, and Musicor. On
many of these recordings, he was backed by
fellow Jacksonians, Tim Whitsett & The
Imperial Show Band. In 1965, Tommy began
performing with Whitsett’s band (along with
Dorothy Moore) and by 1966 he’d become their
featured vocalist (when Dorothy left the
Between 1966 and 1969, Tommy and the Show
Band, traveled extensively, performing in
New York City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Lake
Tahoe, The Great Lakes, Boston, and Canada.
Although most songs on this album were
recorded in Jackson, two tracks, (Little
Girl Blue and My Funny Valentine) are
rehearsal tapes recorded in Tommy’s hotel
room at the Village Inn, Erie Pennsylvania,
accompanied by the band’s guitarist Bucky
1970, as the Viet Nam War peaked, the U.S.
Draft Board picked the Imperial Show Band
clean. Of the 4 members the Army overlooked,
Bucky Barrett joined Roy Orbison;
keyboardist Carson Whitsett joined Elliott
Randall to tour with Eric Mercury; and Tim
Whitsett and Tommy Tate were recruited by
Tommy recorded some 20 tracks for Stax and
its distributed label Ko Ko, and wrote many
chart songs for Luther Ingram. In the ‘80s
and ‘90s, he cut one album for Frederick
Knight’s Juana label, two LPs for Tim
Whitsett’s Urgent! Records, dozens of sides
for the Sundance label, and wrote numerous
songs for Malaco artists Bobby Blue Bland,
Johnnie Taylor, Little Milton, et al.
Tommy Tate’s singing and songwriting career
came to an unfortunate and premature end in
2002 when he suffered a debilitating stroke.
But he continues to gain new fans as his
recordings keep appearing in compilations
and new formats.