Written by
Bob Stumpel

October 16

St. Pete Blues (aka St Pete’s Blues; St Pete Florida Blues; Baby,Let Me Hear You Call My Name; I Found My Baby There, Done Found Out)

Album 1949 - 1956 Way

From Cashbox, Jul. 26, 1952.

Compilation EP: Ray Charles – The Original Uncut Rockin’ Records 1950, [Henry Stone Music], Rockin’ Records, 2004).

Ray dated the recording in 1947, his biographers agree that this was approximately 2 years too early, but further research shows that the gap may be as big as 3 or even 4 years.

Recent re-release.

Actually, the Miami-based music business veteran Henry Stone has claimed several times that he recorded and released the tune in 1950 or 1951, together with Walkin’ And Talkin’Why Did You Go, and I’m Wonderin’ And Wonderin’. 

In this articlepromoting the uncut EP pictured at the right (Rockin’ Records 1950), Stone stated that:

“At the time I recorded Ray Charles, my warehouse was at 505 West Flagler Street, behind a storefront. I was distributing records in the warehouse, and in the back section I had a little Ampex recording machine with an upright piano. I met Ray Charles the night before at the Mary Elizabeth Hotel in Overtown, a happening section of Miami in the early 50s. He was performing at the Harlem Square, a nightclub in Miami. He came into the warehouse the next day with a few of his musician buddies and I recorded them live right in the warehouse. The other guys brought their own instruments and that is where we recorded St. Pete Florida Blues, I’m Wondering and Wondering, Walkin’ and Talkin’, and Why Did You Go. All four songs were recorded live in one session that day. The records were released on my label, Rockin’ Records.”

In another testimonial Stone dated the taping in 1951:

“In 1949, while I was working in Jacksonville, Florida I began hearing stories about a great blind singer who had attended the school for the blind in St. Augustine. His name was Ray Charles. After returning to Miami, I was out one night at the Mary Elizabeth Hotel, an all black Hotel located in what is today known as Overtown, I met Ray Charles. He was in Miami working a few gigs and I suggested a recording session for him to pick up some extra bread. In 1951 I arranged for myself and Eddie Shaw, my engineer and shipping clerk, to take him to my recording studio on West Flagler Street where we recorded these tracks.”

And in this article even Sam Cooke is slipped into the story:

“Overtown, 1950. Henry Stone sits in the lobby of the Mary Elizabeth Hotel, a classy joint with a lounge, several bars, and a concert hall. He’s chopping it up with his buddy Sam Cooke, whom he’s known since his gospel days with the Soul Stirrers. They’re sitting at the bar when Cooke says, ‘I want you to meet Ray Charles.’ We’ll let Stone tell the rest of this tale in his own words:

‘At the time, Ray was just a piano man lookin’ for a gig, y’know? So while we’re talking, he says, ‘I can use some bread, man. Can I come in and cut a couple sides?’ I had a little studio back there [on Flagler], a little Ampex machine, piano, set of drums. I didn’t know nothin’ ’bout microphones or any of that technical shit… We get in there and Ray starts singing like Nat King Cole. I said, ‘Ray, I want you to sing some blues, man – I know you can do a blues song.’ I cut four sides with Ray Charles in 1950: ‘St. Pete Florida Blues,’ ‘Walkin’ and Talkin’,’ couple of others. None of those records really made it. I put ’em on my Rockin’ label first, got a little action, but nothin’ much. Ray went back to Overtown and handed the money straight to the dope man, and about 1952, I get a call from Jerry Wexler from Atlantic Records, and he says, ‘Henry, we’re lookin for Ray Charles. Y’know how I can get a hold of him?’ I say, ‘I know he hangs out in St. Pete with his girlfriend,’ so I hooked up Jerry Wexler with Ray Charles, and of course the rest goes beyond history.'”

In this post Stone remembered that Eddie Shaw engineered the Miami session. In the excellently researched liner notes of the “early years” compilation album The Way I Feel, though, only Walkin’ And Talkin’ and I’m Wonderin’ And Wonderin’ are located in “Miami”, but then with a question mark, and the discographer’s verdict for the dating is “1951”. According to the same source, the musicians were: Ray Charles – voc, p; possibly Gosady McKee – g; Otto McQueen – b; Manzy Harris – ds.

Some of my sources say that I’m Wonderin’ And Wonderin’ was released as a single by Swing Time. And to add to the confusion, on January 3, 1953 Billboard mentioned that Walkin’ And Talkin’ was “doing well on jukes”.

To make things worse, there’s also a Swing Time release (# 300), titled Baby Let Me Hear You Call My Name... and it’s exactly the same song, from the same recording.

Baby, Let Me Hear You Call My Name/

Guitar Blues, mentioned in Billboard 

Releases on July 19, 1952.

Single (A): Swing Time 300. B/w Guitar Blues.
Compilation album: The Way I Feel, Proper, 22 Oct 2007.

According to one trustworthy source it was recorded in Los Angeles, in 1951, “With Orchestra”: Ray Charles – voc, p; arr; Billy Brooks, Fleming Askew – tp; Marshall Royal, Earl Brown – as; Stanley Turrentine, Maurice Simon – ts; Charles Waller – bs; Frank McClure – b; Eddie Pipper – ds; unidenitified girl – backing vocals.
The girl answering Ray’s request to call out his name, remains unknown (or: is it really a girl, and not just a man’s voice with some extra spin?!).

See Henry Stone interviewed on the Craig Charles Funk and Soul Show on BBC 6 radio on December 6, 2008:

February 15 has been proclaimed “Ray Charles Day” by the City of St. Petersburg.


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