Red Holloway – Jazz and R&B saxman dies

Red Holloway the tenor and alto sax player died on February 25th in Morro Bay, California. He was 84. The cause was complications of kidney failure, his manager, Linda Knipe, said.

James Wesley Holloway was born on May 31st, 1927, in Helena, Arkansas. He received his first tenor sax at age 12. In the Army, at 19, he was the bandmaster for the Fifth Army Band.

Returning to Chicago he went on the road with¬†blues pianist Roosevelt Sykes “Roosevelt taught me how to play the blues,” he told UK writer and photographer Val Wilmer in 1977. ¬†He also toured with the New Orleans bassist Nat Towles’s territory band.

During the 1950s Holloway led his own quartet in Chicago clubs supporting Chuck Berry, Billie Holiday, Ben Webster, BB King, as well as backing blues vocalists and doo-wop groups on record while fitting in tours with Jimmy Reed and Pee Wee Crayton, and playing in Red Saunders’s house band at the Regal Theater, Chicago.

In 1960 he headed to New York where he worked with the R&B singer Lloyd Price’s big band for two years before spending a short period with the organist Bill ‘Honky Tonk’ Doggett’s combo.

Holloway broke through to wider recognition in 1963 when he joined the organist¬†Brother Jack McDuff’s¬†“hot” combo alongside the young jazz guitarist George Benson, then some years away from his subsequent fame as a vocalist. Holloway stayed with McDuff for three years, covering America and touring abroad, including London.

A resident of Los Angeles from 1967, Holloway became the bandleader and talent contractor at the Parisian Room club for the next 15 years. He also toured with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and counted this as some of his best-ever paid work. “He pays more money than anyone I have ever worked with,” he told Val Wilmer. In another well-received move, Holloway teamed up with Sonny Stitt for five years, the two touring as a saxophone duo.¬†He moved to Cambria, in central California, he ran unsuccessfully for mayor and kept on the move, fitting in big band gigs with Frank Capp’s LA Juggernaut orchestra.

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