The superb drummer Charles Crosby played with two major figures in black music, blues guitarist B.B. King and the incomparable jazzman Rahsaan Roland Kirk, whom Crosby linked up with during a stretch leading his own combo in Kirk's hometown of Columbus, OH. Crosby was raised in a musical family in the musical center of Memphis, TN, and must have come into some natural talent from either genes or the local drinking water, if not both. Biographers report that his private lessons began when Crosby was 16 -- roughly a year later, he was already gigging in King's road band.
Pianist Phineas Newborn amasses further familiar credits as an inspiration in the case of Crosby, as they played together in a high-school band during the same period. Crosby drummed behind the biting, singing sound of King's guitar, Lucille, through 1953. The drummer then began his Columbus bandleading period, rejoining the sideman ranks in 1957 with both Rusty Bryant and Joe Alexander. In the '60s Kirk became a more than regular employer, one of the few bandleaders in jazz who is said to have worked 52 weeks a year. Crosby is featured on classic Kirk albums such as Here Comes the Whistleman and Volunteered Slavery. A 1959 album entitled Down Home Reunion, credited to the Young Men from Memphis, features Crosby as part of a combo of players from that locale.