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Rosco Gordon

Blues singer and piano player

Blues singer and piano player Rosco Gordon, who influenced 1950s rock ‘n’ roll and reggae music, died July 11 of a heart attack at his home in New York. He was 74.

Gordon’s hits included “Booted,” “Do the Chicken” and “Just a Little Bit,” which sold more than 4 million copies in 1960s cover versions by the Beatles, Etta James, Elvis Presley and Jerry Butler.

In the early 1950s, he was part of the Beale Streeters, an informal group of Memphis’ best blues and R&B musicians that included B.B. King, Johnny Ace, Bobby “Blue” Bland and others who recorded and broadcast together.

He began his solo recording career with Sam Phillips in 1951 and later recorded for Phillips’s Sun label.

Gordon toured widely in the late 1950s, reaching South America and the Caribbean, where his style influenced early ska and reggae.

He is survived by three daughters, three sons, a sister and 10 grandchildren.

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