Johnny Moore's Three Blazers

b. John Dudley Moore, 20 October 1906, Austin, Texas, USA, d. 6 January 1969, Los Angeles, California, USA. The elder brother of guitarist Oscar Moore, Johnny began playing guitar with his violinist father’s string band in 1934 and moved to the west coast, where Oscar joined Nat ‘King’ Cole’s Trio and Johnny Moore joined a group called the Blazes. Fired by that group in 1942, Moore decided to form his own group, which he named the Three Blazers. This featured Eddie Williams on bass and, briefly, pianist Garland Finney. When Finney left the trio the following year, Moore hired Charles Brown, a singer and pianist he had seen at an amateur talent show, and the Three Blazers began recording in 1944 for the small Atlas label. This was followed in 1945-48 by extensive recording for Exclusive, Philo/ Aladdin Records and Modern Records. During this period the Three Blazers became a household name with huge hits such as ‘Driftin’ Blues’, ‘Merry Christmas Baby’, ‘Sunny Road’ and ‘More Than You Know’. When Oscar Moore joined the group in 1947, it was the start of several major problems that ultimately resulted in a split, and Moore tried to replace Charles Brown with a succession of soundalikes. The most successful of these was Billy Valentine, who took the Three Blazers back to the R&B charts with RCA - Victor Records’ ‘Walkin’ Blues’ in 1949. After his 1949-50 association with Victor, Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers recorded for the gamut of Los Angeles labels, but were successful only with 1953’s novelty ‘Dragnet Blues’ on Modern and 1955’s morbid ‘Johnny Ace’s Last Letter’ on Hollywood. Johnny Moore and Charles Brown were reconciled in the mid-50s and the real Three Blazers reunited for records on Aladdin, Hollywood and Cenco; however, by that time, Moore’s cool, sophisticated, melodic blues guitar was out of favour with R&B fans. He was an inspiration to most of the electric blues guitarists of the late 40s and early 50s (he is numbered among B.B. King’s Top 10 guitarists of all time), and his solos on recordings by Ivory Joe Hunter, Floyd Dixon and Charles Brown, as well as tracks with his own group, bear witness that he was one of the unsung greats of his instrument.

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