Baby Huey Story: The Living Legend
James Thomas Ramey, better known by his stage name “Baby Huey” (taken from the Paramount Pictures animated giant cartoon duckling), was born in Richmond, Indiana but had move to Chicago in the early 1960s to front his band The Babysitters with co-founders Melvin Deacon Jones on organ/trumpet and Johnny Ross on guitar. By the time recording took place for The Living Legend, only Huey and Jones remained from the original line up. Deacon Jones would go on to play with Freddie King and John Lee Hooker. Because of a glandular disorder, Huey weighed close to 400 lbs. at times which contributed to his larger than life stage presence as well as a host of health problems. During the later 1960s the Babysitters followed the lead of Sly and the Family Stone and became a psychedelic soul act, with Huey dressing up in elaborate robes and adding rhymes to their stage act. According to band members at the time, Huey’s rhymes were very similar in style to those later popularized by rappers in Hip Hop, but more on that in a bit. The Babysitters regularly played at the Thumbs Up club on Chicago’s north side and it was there that the band was discovered by Donny Hathaway who insisted Curtis Mayfield go the following night to check them out. It has been said that Curtis wasn’t a fan of the band (he only loved Huey) and may have forced some of his own musicians into the sessions for The Living Legend. The record became a posthumous release for Baby Huey as he died on October 28, 1970 in a Chicago hotel room of unknown causes, just weeks after the death of Jimi Hendrix. He was in the middle of recording this album for Curtis Mayfield’s Curtom label, and that may well explain the number of unreleased instrumentals included as a bonus here—he simply didn’t get around to recording vocals. Fast forward to a few years after Huey’s death, Kool Herc (one of the original Hip Hop DJ’s based in the Bronx) began to spin two copies of “Listen To Me” at the same time and folks went nuts over it. That was the beginning of the Baby Huey cult—which later led to “Hard Times” being sampled by the likes of A Tribe Called Quest and Ice Cube.
Lacquers cut directly from the analog tapes by Chris Bellman at Bernie Grundman Mastering. The 2LP set was pressed at Record Industry on 180g black vinyl. The gatefold tip-on jacket with 11x11 insert was manufactured by Stoughton Printing Company.