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Mayfield was born in Minden (Louisiana), capital of Webster Parish, northwest of the state. As a teenager he developed a great talent for poetry that would later explode in his role as a singer and composer. He began his musical career in Texas and soon after, in 1942, he moved to Los Angeles. The success came in 1947 when he signed with the small record label, Swing Time, where he recorded the song “Two Years of Torture.” The album had a good level of sales that lasted for a couple of years which attracted the attention of Art Rupe, who hired him for his label, Specialty Records, in 1950.
Although his vocal style was heavily influenced by artists such as Charles Brown, Mayfield did not seek success in the white market like many other bluesmen on the West Coast. He devoted himself especially to interpreting the blues ballads, generally of own authorship, with his particular soft style. His most famous composition, “Please Send Me Someone to Love”, number one on the R & B charts in 1950, had an enormous influence among his contemporaries and was recorded by numerous artists.
A serious traffic accident in 1952 left his face disfigured, which markedly limited his performances but not his prolific career as a composer. Mayfield continued writing and recording for Specialty until 1954, after which he went through Chess Records e Imperial Records. His career continued to flourish with songs such as “Strange Things Happening,” “Lost Love,” “What a Fool I Was,” “Prayin ‘for Your Return,” “Cry Baby,” and “Big Question.”
In 1961, the song “Hit the Road Jack” caught the eye of Ray Charles signing Mayfield for his label Tangerine Records as a composer. There he signed songs like “Hide nor Hair”, “At the Club”, “Danger Zone” and “On the Other Hand, Baby”.
The period that followed his last recordings for RCA during the early 1970s, plunged Mayfield into oblivion and poverty. However, there was, at the beginning of the 80s, one last chapter in his musical career, when the musician and producer Mark Naftalin discovered him living in the East of San Francisco Bay and proposed to provide him with a band to perform live in clubs. around Marin County and East Bay. The performances were carried out during 1982 with the Phillip Walker Blues Band.
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