Best known among funk collectors for the cult classic "Tell Me," singer Rickey Calloway was born in Jacksonville, Florida on January 8, 1953; according to an interview in the winter 2005 issue of Wax Poetics magazine, as a teen he worked local nightclubs imitating James Brown, eventually tiring of performing Brown's songs and opting to begin writing his own instead. "Tell Me" heralded the 17-year-old Calloway's maiden voyage into songwriting -- recorded with local funk outfit the Crack Mirrow, the single appeared on the Jayville label in 1970, earning significant airplay in northern Florida and southeast Georgia but failing to register nationally. He next recorded "Get It Right" for the California label Bel-Air, but a contract was never signed and the singer ended up with the master tapes; Calloway eventually relocated to Miami, and in 1974 his management landed "Get It Right" with Style Wooten's Memphis-based Comara label. This record too went nowhere, and in 1976 a burned-out Calloway retired from the road, marrying the following year -- in 1979, he resumed his recording career long enough for one final single, the Super release "Payin' My Dues," before resuming his civilian life. After decades removed from the music business, Calloway learned that original copies of "Tell Me" were now trading for large sums on the secondary market -- after recovering the original master tapes, he reissued the song as a Kay-Dee label 12", additionally resuming his performing career at clubs throughout the Jacksonville area.
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