This Week in Texas Music History: Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown
This Week in Texas Music History, we honor a man who helped inspire the creation of one of the state’s most popular record labels.
Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown was born in Vinton, Louisiana, on April 18, 1924. When he was three weeks old, Brown’s family moved to Orange, Texas, where he absorbed the diverse musical influences found along the Texas-Louisiana border. By the 1940s, Brown was an accomplished singer, guitarist, and fiddler who played blues, Cajun, country, and R&B. Brown’s career received a boost when T-Bone Walker became too sick to perform at Houston’s Bronze Peacock club. Gatemouth Brown jumped on stage and improvised a blues song that soon had the audience cheering.
Gatemouth Brown’s impromptu performance impressed the owner of the Bronze Peacock, Don Robey, who began managing and recording him. Based largely on Brown’s popularity, Robey founded Peacock Records, which became one of the state’s most popular labels.
Next time on This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll learn about one of the oldest and most distinctive musical traditions in Texas.