If Joseph Arrington Jr. were still alive, he’d likely be celebrating right now – yesterday, he was nominated for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame along with far better-known names like Pearl Jam, Tupac, Joan Baez, The Cars, and Depeche Mode.
But name recognition is one thing. Legend? That’s another. When he died of a heart attack August 13, 1982, he had just turned 47. Still, it was long enough to mess with Texas music in a big way — and not just Texas music, but American music – under the name Joe Tex.
Growing up in Baytown in East Texas, Joe Tex effortlessly blended the music of his youth: country, gospel, rhythm and blues in a way few had up to that time. He won talent contests, making his first appearance at the Apollo in New York as a teenager.
His shows were spectacular, dancing with a microphone under the spotlight like a Pentecostal preacher possessed. He’d fall to the floor and bang on the stage like Little Richard, unencumbered by a piano. In one smooth move, Joe Tex might slide, throw the mic forward, bring his legs together and snap the mic stand back up with his feet in a style emulated by just about everyone who could pull it off– including, Tex claimed, James Brown.
Hear the rest of the story on Joe Tex and his music in the player above.