There’s a select band of R&B artists who started out in the music business young, made recordings and appeared live for many years, retired for a few decades to raise a family but then later returned to personal appearances and recordings. One of these is Mickey Champion, whose career started in Los Angeles in the late 40s and who is still singing today.
Hooking up with Roy Milton’s Band was an opportunity in more than one way – as well as recordings coming her way, Roy also became Mickey’s husband. Recorded live at Gene Norman’s Blues & Rhythm Show at the Shrine Auditorium in mid-1950, she belted out ‘He’s A Mean Man’ and ‘Lovin’ Jim’ to an estimated audience of 9000 jazz and R&B fans. On the same bill were Dinah Washington (Mickey’s idol) and Jimmy Witherspoon, with whom she recorded ‘There Ain’t Nothing Better’ later that year billed as His Gal Friday. Also in 1950 Mickey fronted the Nic Nacs (a renamed Robins group) and waxed ‘Found Me A Sugar Daddy’ and the seasonal ‘Gonna Have A Merry Xmas’, very much in the Little Esther & The Robins mould, for the Biharis’ RPM label. In the same period, the ballad ‘Everybody Knew It But Me’ and the Dinah Washington-inspired ‘I’ve Got It Bad’ appeared on the Modern label. As well as releasing four singles under her own name, the Biharis auditioned her for quite a few others. Four previously unreleased tracks are included from that period.
By Peter Gibbon