Category Archives: Illinois

Baby Huey and the Baby Sitters

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.

1966
various months – Thumbs Up, Chicago
February 25 – Harmony Hall, Chicago
October – at Trude Hellers, also an announcement that Capitol Booking has signed the group

1967
January- at Ungano’s club in New York
November 10-21 – at the Cheetah in Chicago
December 31 – at the Cheetah in Chicago with the Exception

1968
March 16 – at the Jaguar with the Shadows of Knight
April 5 – The Deep End, Park Ridge, Illinois
May 31 – The Deep End
June 28 – The Deep End
July 9 – Hullabaloo Club, Genoa Road, Belvidere, Illinois
July 10 – The Deep End
July 12 – The New Place with Christopher Robin & Friends
July 19 – The Green Gorilla
July 20 – The Cellar, with the Byzantine Empire
July 26 – The Deep End
August 7 – The New Place with Fire and Ice
August 9 – The Cellar with the One Eyed Jacks
August 17 – The Deep End
August 27 – at the Jaguar with Boston Tea Party
November 23 – at Mother Duck with the Box Tops
November 27 – The Deep End

1969
March 1 – The Wild Goose, Rt 120 & Lewis Ave, Waukegan, Illinois
March 22 – The Wild Goose
April – at Barnaby’s Balcony in Chicago and at the Cheetah in Chicago beginning April 21
May – Billboard reports the group scheduled to record their first LP for Curtom in New York.
May 6 – Appearance on the Soul! TV show, with Dee Dee Warwick, Lord Superior, Shirley Chisholm and Jacob Lawrence – anyone have a clip of this?
May 22 – The Chances ‘R’, Champaign, Illinois
May 21 – appearance on the Merv Griffin Show, in New York
June (2nd week) – Merv Griffin Show broadcast on various dates depending on city
August 14 – Jet announces that Baby Huey was “ailing a bit” in Chicago.

1970
April 24 – Sound Storm Festival, Poynette, Wisconsin (There are a number of excellent photos at (Wisconsin Historical Society – search for Baby Huey or Sound Storm under photos and images.)
August 1 – Lou’s Quarry, Appleton, WI
October 31 – Drake University Homecoming Dance, Val-Air Ballroom (scheduled but cancelled due to Jim Ramey’s passing on the 28th, replaced by Just Us and the Batch)

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

Baby Huey & the Baby Sitters, Traverse_City Record Eagle Aug. 8, 1967
This news item was picked up nationally in August, 1967. I can’t find further details.


Billboard, September 30, 1967


Billboard, November 18, 1967


Billboard, December 23, 1967


at Mother Duck with the Box Tops
November 23, 1968

Jet, March 6, 1969

Baby Huey & the Babysitters on Soul!, Bridgeport Post March 6, 1969
Baby Huey & the Babysitters appear on the Soul! TV show, with Dee Dee Warwick, Lord Superior, Shirley Chisholm and Jacob Lawrence, March 6, 1969 – anyone have a clip of this?


Billboard, April 1, 1969


Billboard, April 12, 1969


Billboard, April 26, 1969


Billboard, May 17, 1969 – does the tape of this broadcast still exist?!

Baby Huey & the Babysitters on Merv Griffin, Independent Press-Telegram, June 8, 1969
Broadcast of the Merv Griffin Show on June 11, 1969

Baby Huey & the Babysitters at Lou's Quarry, Appleton Post-Crescent July 31 1970
Lou’s Quarry, Appleton, Wisconsin, August 1, 1970


Jet, August 14, 1969

At Lou’s Quarry, Appleton, Wisconsin, August 1, 1970
Baby Huey & the Babysitters, Daily Journal March 20, 1969
Baby Huey profiled in the The Daily Journal (Fergus Falls, Minnesota), March 20, 1969