Rufus Thomas

Rufus Thomas was an American R&B singer who became famous for his irrepressible dance recordings at Sun Records in Memphis and on Stax Records and for his talent shows and radio shows. Noted for his infectious personality and fun-filled performances, he did much to further harmony between black and white musicians in the 1950s. He is remembered best for his hit singles 'Walking the Dog', which went to number ten on Billboard's Hot 100 in 1963 and 'Do the Funky Chicken', which peaked at number 28 in 1970. Born in Mississippi, he gravitated to nearby Memphis as a child, joined the Rabbit's Foot Minstrels and appeared at the Palace Theatre and in vaudeville. He became a manager of artists such as Junior Parker, Bobby 'Blue' Bland and B.B. King and started to make his own recordings in the 1950s. At Sun Records, he recorded a song called 'Bear Cat', which drew complaints from Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller due to its similarity to their song 'Hound Dog', soon to be a major hit for Elvis Presley. It was a hit but as Sun Records began to attract more white artists such as Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Charlie Rich, Thomas moved on to what became Stax Records, where he had a 1961 hit with his daughter Carla titled 'Cause I Love You'. He continued to record through the 1990s with singles along the way such as 'The Breakdown', which went to number 41 on the Hot 100 in 1971; '(Do the Push and Pull' (1971), which reached number 25; and 'Do the Funky Penguin' (1972), which peaked at number 44. Albums included 'Do the Funky Chicken' (1970), which hit number 32 on Billboard's R&B Chart, ''Rufus Thomas Live/Doing the Push & Pull at PJ's' (1971), which went to number 19, and 'Crown Prince of Dance' (1973), which peaked at number 42. Thomas carried on as a crowd-pleasing showman for the rest of his life. He died of heart failure at the age of 84.

Related Artists

Stations Featuring Rufus Thomas

Please enable Javascript to view this page competely.