I’d like to focus on the early career of Baby Huey and the Baby Sitters – four songs released across five singles during 1964-1966, before Huey signed to Curtom and recorded the songs issued on his great posthumous LP.
These four are the influential “Monkey Man” and a great cover of Junior Wells’ “Messin with the Kid”, along with a fantastic soul number, “Just Being Careful”. His version of “Beg Me” isn’t bad, but it’s probably the weakest number on these early 45s.
Baby Huey was born James Ramey in Richmond, Indiana and formed the Babysitters in Chicago in 1963 with guitarist Johnny Ross and organ player/trumpeter Melvin “Deacon” Jones. Melvin Jones is brother of jazz drummer Harold Jones. Reno Smith was the drummer at some point (though I’m not sure if he’s on these singles). “Monkey Man” and “Just Being Careful” were both written by John R. Ross.
Other members of the Babysitters included Plato Jones on percussion, Danny O’Neil on guitar, Rick Marcotte on trumpet, and Byron Watkins on tenor sax.
Baby Huey died in a South Side motel room on October 28, 1970, after a show in Madison, Wisconsin.
Early 45 releases
The history of Baby Huey’s early singles is somewhat confusing because of the repetition of songs. Below seems to be a complete list from this time period:
Shann 73924 – Just Being Careful / Messin’ With the Kid (1965)
USA 801 – Just Being Careful / Messin’ With the Kid (April ’65)
St. Lawrence 1002 – Monkey Man / Beg Me (1965, issued on both blue and white labels)
St. Lawrence 1002 – Monkey Man / Messin’ With the Kid (1965, white label only)
Satellite 2013 – Monkey Man / Messin’ With the Kid (1967)
Some or all of the Shann 45s have the label name marked over with “USA”. I don’t believe “Monkey Man”/”Beg Me” exists on Satellite.
The St. Lawrence white label of Monkey Man was bootlegged in 2011.
In 2005 an acetate came up on auction that was supposed to be an unreleased instrumental by Baby Huey and the Baby Sitters. I had a sound clip up here for over a year before Mark Namath identified it as “Zoobie” by the Noisemakers. The acetate was probably a DJ or collector’s cut misidentified as Baby Huey – there’s no connection whatever between the groups.
Thanks to Dean Milano for scan of the photo of Baby Huey and the Baby Sitters at the top of the page. Check out Dean’s new book The Chicago Music Scene: 1960s and 1970s.
Transfer of “Beg Me” thanks to a fan of the group.
|Gigs and announcements in the press
According to Billboard, promoter Barry Fey’s first production was a Baby Huey show in Rockford, IL. Eventually Huey and the Babysitters were managed by Marv Stuart’s State and Madison Management (listed as Marv Heiman on wikipedia).
Billboard and Jet magazines kept tabs on some of Baby Huey’s doings during the late ’60s. I’m sure Chicago newspapers from the time have more listings.
Billboard also mentions that after Huey’s death, the Babysitters changed their name to Boink for at least one live show. However Robert Baker, in a comment below states “The Babysitters never changed their name to Boink. This was another concurrent group that had at least two ex-Babysitters in the group.” Live dates from publications including The Daily Herald (Chicago), the Des Moines Register, the Belvidere Daily Republican.
at the Jaguar with the Shadows of Knight!
March 16, 1968
Jet, November 12, 1970
Billboard, December 5, 1970
Jet, October 7, 1971
Billboard, October 29, 1966
Billboard, November 26, 1966
Jet, January 19, 1967
Billboard, September 30, 1967
Billboard, November 18, 1967
Billboard, December 23, 1967
at Mother Duck with the Box Tops
November 23, 1968
Billboard, April 1, 1969
Billboard, April 12, 1969
Billboard, April 26, 1969
Billboard, May 17, 1969 – does the tape of this broadcast still exist?!
Jet, August 14, 1969
At Lou’s Quarry, Appleton, Wisconsin, August 1, 1970