Deadsplinter Up! All Night: Five Guys Named Moe

I bet you’ve never heard of Louis Jordan. But, I bet you’ve heard of Chuck Berry, Nat King Cole, Fats Domino, James Brown, Ray Charles, The Rolling Stones, BB King, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, or Van Morrison, just to name a few of the people who directly cited Jordan as a major influence on their music. He encouraged Nat King Cole to start singing and even wrote one of Cole’s early hits. Chuck Berry modeled his songwriting style and live stage show after Jordan’s. BB King released an entire album of Jordan covers. Ray Charles signed him to Charles’ own record label. Louis Jordan influenced everyone who influenced everyone else. Just about every genre and artist in popular music in the past 50 years can trace their sound and style, either directly or indirectly, straight to Jordan.

For about 10 years from the early ’40’s to the early ’50’s, he was the absolute ruler of the R&B charts and was nicknamed “The King of the Jukebox.” His jump blues music was the bridge between the swing of the 30’s and 40’s and the R&B of the 40’s and 50’s. He appeared in films, and cut an astonishing number of early music videos called “soundies.” He had the first double platinum single in history. He was even tapped to cut the first Rock and Roll record with his label, Decca. But, by that time, Jordan was in his mid-40’s and the relentless touring was taking a toll on his health so he passed. Decca gave the record to Bill Haley and the Comets (who also cite Jordan as a major influence). The album was produced by Milt Gabler (fun fact: Gabler was Billy Crystal’s uncle) who had been Jordan’s producer for several years. Gabler said he used all the same tricks on Haley’s album that he did with Jordan’s–he just turned up the back beat.

But, he never got his due during the blues revivals of the 60’s and 80’s. So-called “serious” blues aficionados dismissed Jordan as nothing more than a novelty act. Jordan kept working anyway, albeit in a more limited capacity with lower record sales, and eventually died of a heart attack in 1975.

His music is completely undeniable. It is unbelievably catchy, and danceable with great lyrics and incredible energy. Eventually, larger audiences came to know the music, if not the man, through a musical which came out in the early ’90’s called Five Guys Named Moe. Today, there is even a club band in Chicago by the same name. So, Jordan was able to get a little bit of appreciation after his passing, but far too few people have any idea who this pivotal figure in musical history was. Just listen to these tunes and tell me this guy wasn’t an absolute killer. I bet you’ve even heard cover versions of these tunes at some point:

So, Deadsplinters, who’s your unknown superstar?

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When you can walk its length, and leave no trace, you will have learned.


  1. Is you is or is you ain’t my baby is one of my most favorite songs. I feel like I should be in a sophisticated 40’s club adulting when I  hear it.

    Not an old unknown, but I don’t think Westerman is well known?


  2. *bounces out of the room* damn i love me some good jazz
    as i dont know any unknown superstars ill just nominate me uncle

    hes the sax dude… be fair he could play damn near anything

  3. So not to be confused with Louis Jourdan, the suave French actor who showed up all over the place for at least four decades.
    My favorite role was Lyle Benton (despite his very heavy French accent), the deranged husband of Doris Day in 1956’s ultra-campy film noir “Julie.” Here’s the whole movie. Let’s hope this works. I’ve tried to do this three or four times. 

      • I was an AWA kid, because that** was ALL that was on, if you didn’t wanna watch Sunday Church TV, in MN, back in the 70’s & 80’s😉
        Once the AWA guys got absorbed into the WWE/WWF juggernaut, I’d mostly stopped watching wrestling, but Foley’s name (and characters!) is one of the few I DO remember–i wasn’t a fan of the Heels, so i didn’t realize until i was much older, how great a guy he is, though!😉💗
        (**Grizzly Adams, The Wild Wild West, and Mean Gene Gagne & the Boys wrestling out of Minneapolis!)

        • My dad was a Midwest wrestling champ & out of college became a pro wrestler thinking it was real.  Lasted a very short time before joining Marines.  He used to take me to Wrestling Hawaii w/ Lord Tallyho Blears!  Fun stuff.  I realized how fake it was when we went to an all you can eat Mongolian BBQ & they were all eating together!  They made that place go broke with all you can eat thing.  Fun fact, my greatest childhood sports memory is beating my sister & Wilt Chamberlain with me & wrestler Chief Billy Whitewolf.  Pretty sure they let us win.

    • and then I’ll say, WHO DOESN’T KNOW LOUIS JORDAN’S VOICE?!?!???
      He’s only half of the BEST & ONLY APPROPRIATE VERSION of “Baby It’s Cold Outside!”

      I KNOW there’s a ton of controversy around that song… and many folks haaaaaate it.
      But ☝️☝️☝️this was the first version of that song *I* got to know, and it’s perfectly played.
      Flirty, tongue-in-cheek, and ABSOLUTELY sung as a flirtation between consenting adults–Ella NAILED her part, as does Jordan–he’s not coercive, like the dudes in so many versions. You very much get the feel that, should she say, “No” at any time, he WOULD respect it and her… they just both know & understand, that in *their society,* all the steps MUST be taken/”every argument must be made,” before she can stay at his place that evening😉💖
      And another off the same greatest hits album I have “Baby It’s Cold Outside” on, whiiiich is a TERRIBLE song nowadays, for SO many reasons!, buuuuut which also does have a lot of fun back & forth, as a duet;

      As for little-Known artists, 
      I guess I’m gonna go local, because more folks OUGHT to be listening to Tall Paul;

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