When singer/songwriter/guitarist Robert Cray began to get widespread attention, he didn't fit the mold of a stereotypical blues artist. He was young, trim, and didn't seem to carry the world-weary, almost down-and-out aura that so many of the genre's performers possess. Cray had a wide range of musical idols: Sam Cooke, O.V. Wright, the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Howlin' Wolf, and Ray Charles. Otis Redding would have to be added to that list, because Cray used the Memphis Horns (heard on Redding's records) on several of his sides. On his first major-label release, Strong Pretender, Cray's smooth vocals and an arresting, up-tempo groove enliven the otherwise depressing infidelity theme of the LP's first single, "Smoking Gun." Written by Cray, co-producer Bruce Bromberg, and band bassist Richard Cousins, the song ushered in the contemporary blues era with its respectful nod to the blues tradition while imparting the genre with an underlying airiness. Produced by Dennis Walker and Bromberg, Strong Pretender went platinum, earned Cray his second Grammy, and "Smoking Gun" peaked at number 22 pop in early 1987.