The Meters earned a 2018 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nomination last week, which is as good of a reason as any to talk about King Biscuit Boy.
Proving that funk and blues know no geographical boundaries, Canadian Richard Newell blew as hot of a harmonica as any Chicago bluesman you can name. He was a solid guitarist, too: Ronnie Hawkins gave Newell his nickname after hearing him play guitar like Sonny Boy Williamson, host of the King Biscuit Flour Hour.
Much like the Band before him, King Biscuit Boy’s first big break came in Hawkins’ backing band, but his tenure only lasted for one year and a single album, 1970’s self-titled Ronnie Hawkins. Newell then recorded an album with a band named Crowbar before embarking on his solo career.
King Biscuit Boy’s second solo record, 1974’s self-titled King Biscuit Boy, a.k.a. The Brown Derby Album, was produced by Alan Toussaint and features not only Toussaint but the rest of the Meters. Toussaint wrote six of the albums 10 tracks, too.
That makes King Biscuit Boy a Meters album in all but name in my book, and it’s a good one, too.
Unfortunately, Newell liked his drink a bit too much, which may have been a factor in his death at the reasonably young age of 58. He only left behind seven albums, eight if you count the Hawkins record. King Biscuit Boy was the only one released on a major U.S. label.
While original Meters vinyl will cost you a hundred bucks or more in mint condition, you can pick up a copy of King Biscuit Boy for 5-10 bucks. That’s a great, affordable way to get your Meters record collection started. Happy hunting.