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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Calvin Owens RIP

Just recieved this sad news from Illinois Blues:

We regret to inform you of the death of Calvin Owens. He will be missed.

Below is information on Calvin compiled by Bluesman, Ben Cox.

Calvin Owens
b. April 23, 1929 - d. Feb 21, 2008

Legendary bandleader and trumpeter Calvin Owens succumbed to kidney failure
today. He was 78. Owens is best known for being an early bandleader for B.B. King
in the early fifties while King recorded his famous sides at the Kent Label in Texas.
Owens, born in New Orleans Fifth Ward, migrated with his mother to Houston TX,
where at 13 he began playing trumpet. Joining a vaudeville show after high school,
Owens later met B.B. in 1953 and toured and led his band till 1957,
when he returned to Houston. Upon his return, Owens became a songwriter/arranger/session player/
A&R rep for the famed Peacock Recording Company under the infamous Don Robey. In that period,
Owens famously recorded with T-Bone Walker, Amos Milburn, Junior Parker,
and David “Fathead” Newman to name a few.
Owens recorded off and on between continually playing all around the Houston area for many years,
refusing to pigeon holed into just blues and jazz. Owens would later return to touring with
B.B. King from 1978-1984, notching a Grammy as the bandleader for King on the album Blues ‘n’ Jazz.
Owens would then move to Belgium where he stayed and recorded sporadically for a decade before
returning to Houston in 1993.
Again, Owens would go on to record not just blues but country, Spanish music, and hip hop.
His numerous abilities to fluidly cross between genres can be heard in any number of his subsequent
releases since his return. Two recordings in the blues genre notched him critical acclaim
for his solo album Ain’t Gonna Be Yo’ Dog No Mo’ in which Owens is coupled with several
different young blues artists and his bandleading work on his own label Sawdust Alley Records’
Trudy Lynn with the Calvin Owens Orchestra.
Owens simultaneously has notched several instrumentalist nomenations from the BMA’s for his
work on the trumpet. Last year, Owens also released the Spanish album La Mujer que Cante Blues,
a collaboration with Evelyn Rubio. In 2007, Owens also recorded and arranged a country album
with legends Willie Nelson, Ray Price, and Johnny Bush.
Diagnosed with liver cancer a few years prior, his health had continually deteriorated
after subsequent surgeries to have tumors removed. The latest surgery which took place
several weeks ago weakened his condition from which he never recorded.
“The Maestro” as he was called, has a long recorded history and influence that will shine
on for years to come.

Andrew Dansby’s obituary of the Houston Chronicle contributed to this article.

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