That blue-beat girl

This is where you know Millie Small from:

The song, written by Bobby Spencer of the R&B group The Cadillacs, had made some chart noise for singer Barbie Gaye in 1956; producer Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records, played up the similarities between Gaye’s R&B jump and jive and Millie’s ska-based pre-reggae bounce, and they were repaid with a #2 hit in Britain, where she was billed simply as “Millie,” and in the States. She continued to record for several years before retiring.

Picture sleeve for German issue of My Boy Lollipop

Publicity photo of Millie Small

Cover art for Millie's 1970 album Time Will Tell

Two questions still linger.

“Did Rod Stewart play harmonica on ‘My Boy Lollipop’?” Rod says he didn’t; Millie says he did.

“Can she still sing?”

On the basis of this video, shot 6 October 2015, her 69th birthday, I conclude the answer is Yes.

6 comments

  1. Roger Green »

    6 October 2018 · 9:42 pm

    My Boy Lollipop I have on the Island Story 2 CD set, chronologically much earlier than most of the tracks.

  2. CGHill »

    6 October 2018 · 10:50 pm

    I have that same set. Blackwell sent Millie’s tracks to Fontana for release, presumably to reduce his own exposure should they flop. (Similarly, Berry Gordy got the Miracles’ “Got a Job” issued on End Records before he built the Tamla/Motown machine.) Fontana was a subsidiary of Philips NV, the Dutch label; in the States, Millie’s music came out on Smash, a subsidiary of Mercury, which was, quelle surprise, the US outpost of Philips.

  3. Days of Broken Arrows »

    8 October 2018 · 2:57 pm

    Good post.

    She was also one of the few artists to cover Nick Drake during his lifetime. Her version of his “Mayfair” came out as a 45 in March 1970.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FtuUpoiKQtQ

  4. Roger Green »

    8 October 2018 · 4:27 pm

    Thanks for the explanation.

  5. Days Of Broken Arrows »

    8 October 2018 · 5:30 pm

    Millie Small also covered a Nick Drake song, “Mayfair,” in 1970, making her one of the few performers to recognize his talent during his lifetime.

    Hope this comment gets through second time around.

  6. CGHill »

    8 October 2018 · 7:33 pm

    You’re fine. I just got tugged away from the Official Moderation Desk for a longer period than usual.

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