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Junior Parker

Rhythm and blues singer from Mississippi

Armando Bellmas
Armando Bellmas
Junior Parker

Today on Ecléctico you're listening to Junior Parker, a rhythm and blues star from north Mississippi with a smooth and warm voice and style. Also known as Little Junior Parker, he recorded for Sun Records for a while, "Mystery Train" being his well-known tune from that era (and later recorded by Elvis Presley). Today's song is Parker's take on a classic blues by Roosevelt Sykes, adding horns and an arrangement which has become the standard for the song.

You'll go deeper with an excerpt from and a link to background info about the song on Songfacts and Wikipedia.


"Driving Wheel" by Junior Parker
1961 | Rhythm and blues singer from Mississippi


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Photo: Sun Records

Roosevelt Sykes first recorded this song with Decca Records on February 18, 1936. It pretty quickly went on to become a blues standard and has been covered by many different artists. [1]

Junior Parker, as "Little Junior Parker", recorded "Driving Wheel" for Duke Records in 1960 or 1961. Although Parker's vocal line and lyrics follow Sykes' late 1940s version, the song uses a group arrangement with a horn section and adds a break in the middle of the song. Musician and music writer Billy Vera notes: "Fronting a horn section was really how Junior heard himself. He was a singer, not a shouter. His voice was sweet, his vibrato throbbing ... [his songs] were all more melodic than the average blues."

Most subsequent versions of "Driving Wheel" show Parker's influence, including the distinctive bass line. When the song was released in 1961, it spent eleven weeks on the US Billboard R&B chart, where it reached number five; it also reached number 85 in the pop chart. [2]

  • Read both articles: [1] and [2].
United States

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