Millie Bosman

Biography by

There is a clichéd bit of advice that a large percentage of success in life can be attributed to showing up on time, the remaining hours obviously set aside for waiting for everyone else that is late.…
Read Full Biography

Artist Biography by

There is a clichéd bit of advice that a large percentage of success in life can be attributed to showing up on time, the remaining hours obviously set aside for waiting for everyone else that is late. The career of this '50s rhythm & blues singer reflects on both sides of the issue. Unfortunately for her, her single greatest contribution to record sales was the direct result of her running hours late for a recording date, but she didn't do too badly for herself once she actually got there. The advancement of instrumental music in a culture that is heavily obsessed with vocalists probably owes a great deal to tardiness on the part of singers, and the Bosman tale is a typical example. Bosman was part of a raft of rhythm & blues talent signed to the MGM label in the fall of 1952, also including blues singers Basil Spears and Gabriel Brown, torch vocalist Eileen Redfield, harmony group Eddie Carter & the Carter-Rays, the funky Clarence Palmer & the Jive Bombers, and honking tenorman Samuel Taylor, later to be known by the nickname Sam "The Man" Taylor.

Bosman was the man of the hour, or rather the woman, for a Halloween recording session involving a top-flight backup band with players such as drummer Panama Francis, bassist Milt Hinton, trumpeter Taft Jordan, and Taylor himself on tenor sax. The hour was two in the afternoon; the session notes indicate that originally three hours were set aside for the recording. The producer had signed Bosman on the strength of a demo recording in which she came across as a kind of Billie Holiday-style singer, melodic but with a strong touch of blues. No matter that MGM had advertised her as a "blues shouter" in trade papers; perhaps this was based on someone having to shout at her over the phone to remind her about the session. Not to let the studio time go to waste, the backup band went ahead and recorded the instrumental arrangements that had been devised for the proposed Bosman cuts, Jordan and Taylor blowing improvised solos in the spots where her vocals were supposed to be.

"Birmingham Special" was the resulting ad hoc track, and it turned out to be a bigger hit than anything Bosman recorded. The success of the song encouraged MGM to release other instrumentals as well. "Birmingham Special" and its flip side were credited to the Blues Chasers, a name that Taylor made sporadic use of during his career. When Bosman finally showed her face at the studio, the same arrangement was re-cut plus vocal as "You Ain't Had No Blues." Bosman also did a cover version of the Irene Higginbotham tune entitled "Dream Street," and it is this side that she is best known for. Her other recordings include the song "Is It a Sin?," which can possibly be interpreted as a comment about punctuality. Focusing on the session activities of the Blues Chasers' hornman Jordan, the collection Blues Women With Taft Jordan collects all of the tracks mentioned above, both vocal and instrumental.