Ruth Brown, R.I.P.

93414__ruth_lR&B legend Ruth Brown, a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, died Friday at age 78 after several weeks in a coma caused by a heart attack and stroke. To pay tribute, check out these terrific YouTube clips of Brown’s performances of the hits "(Mama) He Treats Your Daughter Mean" and "Teardrops From My Eyes," both of which will remind you why Brown was dubbed "Miss Rhythm" during her heyday as Atlantic Records first superstar in the 1950s.

Perhaps just as important as her legacy as a vocalist who influenced folks from Aretha Franklin to Bonnie Raitt were Brown’s tireless efforts as a lobbyist who worked to get record companies to pay artists’ royalties. An obituary in the Washington Post notes,

In hearings, she would shake in indignation, that voice rising and falling, and congressmen were mesmerized. Reps. Mickey Leland and John Conyers professed their complete infatuation; even Sen. Jesse Helms voiced his support, saying, "The record for me was 5-10-15 Hours.’"

While lean years in the ’60s found Brown driving a school bus and working as a Head Start teacher, a career resurgence a decade later brought her a Tony Award and a role as Motormouth Maybelle in the movie Hairspray. You can find more information about Brown’s career at her official Web site and hear additional song clips at her AOL Music page.

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Comments (17 total) Add your comment
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  • Dan Druff

    Ruth who???

  • Ep Sato

    It pains me how many R&B and soul singers have died in the last few years. The show “Boondocks” put the blame on “soul food” in the “Itis” episode, saying that it’s time for a serious change in diet in the African American community. I love me some soul food, so don’t think this hermano is hating, but with all these artists dying of strokes and heart attacks (many at young ages, like their 30’s and 40’s), it leads me to believe that we need to create healthier choices in every diet. My own community puts a high premium on fried foods and baked goods made from bleached flour, and it’s clear that we all need to, as Elijah Muhammad put it, learn to eat to live.
    I fear that poor diets may cause the death of many more of our national treasures before we as a nation say that it’s time for a change. May Ruth Brown rest in peace, and I wish the best to her family in these difficult and trying times.

  • Ed

    Ep, great way to turn this blog into something interesting.
    I’m sorry but Dan Druff beat me to it.

  • Anna

    Dan and Ed, you two might want to read the blog before posting so that you don’t make yourselves look foolish by asking who she is. Michael explained it all quite clearly.

  • Dan Druff

    Anna: that’s not the point, sweetheart.
    Who has ever heard of this woman?
    I sure haven’t.

  • Anna

    I have, dearest, and so have a lot of other people. She is in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame after all.

  • Ed

    Anna, Anna, Anna, the only foolish person is you – you should THINK first before YOU respond.
    It is possible to read about someone or something and still have no clue who or what the subject matter is about.

  • T

    Dan and Ed, Even if you aren’t familiar with music, the Rock and Roll hall of fame, tony awards or Ruth Brown in general, can you at least show the deceased an iota of respect???? i won’t even go into a rant about how many older artists who paved the way for contemporaries to make millions get minimal recognition.

  • Ed

    There are tons of artist who aren’t even on the hall of fame list that you or I don’t know about, how is that being disrespectful?
    Most people who read these blogs won’t even know who this woman is, just look at how many responses it’s recieved in the last hour – 3! Ep Sato is the only one who really responded, yours and Anna’s are just complaints. At least Dan and I were honest : P
    This happens all the time, I read a blog recently where some 20 year olds thought Madonna was from England, and she’s still alive and relavent.
    I stand by my comment!

  • KC Holt

    Rest in Peace, Motormouth Maybelle!!!

  • Anna

    Ed, are you telling me that you read that entire article and you still can’t figure out what Ruth Brown did? Besides, I actually have no problem with the fact that you don’t know Ruth Brown. To be perfectly honest, while I know of her, I’m not really a fan.
    If you don’t know her, fine, but “Ruth who???” is kind of rude and unnecessary, especially to people who may feel genuinely sad over her passing.
    On that note, I’d like to apologize for making it worse. This argument is silly and I shouldn’t have started it.
    RIP Ms. Brown.

  • Dan Druff

    She may be in the Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame, but I honestly have never heard of the lady.
    I don’t mean any disrespect.
    Just never heard of Ruth Brown, that’s all…

  • Ed

    I’m like that bad relative that comes every Thanxgiving and rehashes events that happend long time ago, I don’t let things go that easily.
    I see no disrespect by saying “Ruth who” even after she has died. You can’t tell me that when you’ve read the obits you have never in your life said, “who’s that?”
    …pass the stuffing please!

  • Julian

    The loss of life is sad indeed. I believe Ep Sato has made quite a few valid points.

  • Kanga

    Dan Druff and Ed:
    What is the *point* to your need to ask ‘Ruth who’? If you do not who she was and what she was a legend for, why bother with rude, disrespectful questions when you could just skip over the article altogether as most people do when they see an obit that details someone they know nothing about?
    I just do not see the need for your attempts to be cute nor your attempts to be flip or somehow amusing. A woman has died. A very important woman in the history of R&B and Blues music. If you do not know about her, that is your loss.
    I must also ask, how many 78-year old music (or other showbiz) legends *do* you know by name? Or, anything about? And, just how many people who are inducted in The Rock And Roll Hall of Fame *can* you name?
    All questions I pose are, of course, rhetorical, but not only is posting a comment akin to “Who???” in response to an obituary a disservice to the subject of the notice, but it is equally disrespectful of those of us who feel the loss of said person. I have to wonder if either of you had ever had to mourn the loss of any other human being, sure does not seem like it.
    Thanksgiving? *Definitely* the time for turkeys!!! Twerps.

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