b. 3 January 1926, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, d. 11 May 1994, Chicago, Illinois, USA. Guitarist and singer Overbea, who came out of the Chicago R&B scene, was one of the earliest pioneers of rock ‘n’ roll. He began his musical career in 1946 and first recorded in 1950 as a vocalist on an Eddie Chamblee track. Overbea joined Chess Records in 1952, producing his best-known songs, ‘Train Train Train’ (number 7 R&B) and ‘40 Cups Of Coffee’, the following year. Both were essentially rock ‘n’ roll songs before the concept of ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ had even emerged. In the pop market, ‘Train Train Train’ was covered by Buddy Morrow and ‘40 Cups Of Coffee’ by Ella Mae Morse. By 1955, when rock ‘n’ roll was making its breakthrough on the pop charts, Bill Haley And His Comets recorded ‘40 Cups Of Coffee’, which, even though it did not chart, proved to be one of their better efforts. Famed disc jockey Alan Freed featured Overbea many times in his early rock ‘n’ roll revues in Ohio and New York; his acrobatic back-bend to the floor while playing the guitar behind his head was always a highlight of the shows. Overbea was also a talented ballad singer (in the mode of Billy Eckstine), having most success with ‘You’re Mine’ (also recorded by the Flamingos) and ‘A Toast To Lovers’. Overbea made his last records in 1959 and retired from the music business in 1976.
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