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Influential blues singerby Todd S. Jenkins
Copyright © 2004 Todd S. Jenkins
Arnold Dwight "Gatemouth" Moore, a lesser-known blues icon whose tunes were covered by the likes of Rufus Thomas, Jimmy Witherspoon and B.B. King, died on May 18, 2004, in Yazoo City, Mississippi. He was 90 years old.
Moore was remembered more for some of his blues compositions -- "Did You Ever Love A Woman", "I Ain't Mad at You, Pretty Baby", "Somebody's Got To Go" -- than for the powerful, gospelly voice that earned him his nickname. In 1930 Moore moved from Memphis to Kansas City, where he began working with Bennie Moten and associating with the early Basie cadre. Bandleaders Tommy Douglas and Walter Barnes also employed the gutsy singer in the 1930s and 40s.
In 1949 Moore received his ordination as a minister and began leaving the blues behind in favor of gospel music. In the meantime, younger bluesmen like King and Thomas recorded some of Moore's tunes, with "Did You Ever Love A Woman" becoming a particular favorite.
Most of Moore's later recordings were in the gospel vein, and he appeared on many religious television and radio programs in the 1970s. However, in 1977 Moore made his final album, Great R&B Oldiea, revisiting the blues and R&B music which had begun his career. Early in 2004 Moore was honored by a resolution from the Mississippi state legislature, commending him for his illustrious career in blues and gospel. He had retired to Yazoo City many years before his death. In 2003 he appeared in Richard Pearce's documentary "Road to Memphis".
Todd S. Jenkins
Todd S. Jenkins is a member of the JJA, author of Free Jazz and Free Improvisation: An Encyclopedia (Greenwood Press, 2004) and I Know What I Know: The Music of Charles Mingus (Praeger, 2006), and a contributor to Down Beat, All About Jazz, American Songwriter and Route 66 Magazine.