b. 5 May 1925, Youngstown, Ohio, USA, d. 1957. Raised in Chicago by the vaudeville act Butterbeans And Susie, Parker developed into an all-round entertainer specializing in singing and dancing, and his powerful voice lent itself well to blues shouting. Recording with trumpeter King Kolax for Columbia Records in 1948, he came to the attention of band leader Lionel Hampton, and recorded as the latter’s blues vocalist for Decca Records and MGM Records over the next three years, covering many of the top US R&B hits of the day (‘Drinking Wine, Spo-Dee-O-Dee’, ‘For You My Love’, ‘Merry Christmas Baby’, and ‘I Almost Lost My Mind’). During the Hampton years, Parker recorded sessions in his own name for Aladdin Records, Spire and Peacock, usually featuring a contingent from the then-current Hampton orchestra. Later sessions were recorded in the mid-50s for Brunswick Records, Ultima and Hitts, and Parker continued to tour sporadically with Hampton. In 1957, Hampton brought Parker to Europe, and it was while touring France that he became seriously ill and died.
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