The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

1 December 2005

Along came Jones

You might remember this:

You talk too much
You worry me to death
You talk too much
You even worry my pet

Joe Jones, born in New Orleans in 1926, once claimed to have been the first black petty officer in the Navy. I don't know about that, but after WWII, he formed his own band in the Crescent City, which lasted until B. B. King came to town and hired Jones to be part of his band and eventually assistant bandleader.

King and Jones went their separate ways about the time Jones put out his first single, "Adam Bit the Apple," a remake of an old jump blues by Big Joe Turner. Released by Capitol in 1954, it went nowhere, but Jones kept busy with session work. Sylvia Vanderpool got him a deal with Roulette, which led to "You Talk Too Much" in 1960, produced by New Orleans legend Harold Battiste. As Roulette 4304, it hit #3 on the pop charts; reportedly, there were two other versions in the can that Joe recorded for other labels, and inevitably, there was a cover version, by Frankie ("Sea Cruise") Ford.

Like many recording acts, Joe Jones made a lot of money for his label and not a lot for himself. He also made a lot of money for Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller and George Goldner, owners of the Red Bird label, by bringing to them a New Orleans girl group called the Dixie Cups, who had several huge hits in the middle 1960s. Eventually Jones settled in Los Angeles, opened a music-publishing house, and vowed to do right by his writers; he also assisted other R&B performers who had made hits but no money, by helping them recoup the rights to their material.

Joe Jones is gone now — a quadruple bypass proved too much for the man.

(Jones' other chart single, from 1961, was the original version of "California Sun", later a pounding surf hit for the Rivieras.)

Posted at 7:00 PM to Tongue and Groove

"California Sun" got a lot of low-level ad play out there over the years -- I assume the Rivieras' version -- so I hope Joe was able to pick up some of that action.

Posted by: McGehee at 8:37 PM on 1 December 2005

Well, he's listed as a composer of the song, and songwriters' royalties, unlike royalties for record sales, are guaranteed by statute, so unless he assigned the rights to someone else, he was getting paid for it.

Posted by: CGHill at 8:46 PM on 1 December 2005

Never heard that version! I like it maybe even more than the Frankie Avalon version in Back to the Beach.

Posted by: Donna at 7:56 AM on 2 December 2005

The Dixie Cups made it out of NOLA and are in the Tampa area:

Posted by: John Owen Butler at 9:11 AM on 2 December 2005