Very little is known about Bobby Soots, except what is contained in a Tampa newspaper snippet dated Nov. 2, 1950. He was born in Alabama during the ’20s, took up the guitar when he was twelve and had his first band, the Red Wagon Boys, entertaining a local radio show in 1938. He then moved to Chicago to sing Hillbilly in the clubs, when the famous jazz drummer and bandleader Gene Krupa noticed and hired him as featured vocalist. Soots had a strong baritone voice, and Krupa used him on New York sessions for C&W tunes like Pee Wee King‘s « Bonaparte’s retreat » (June 1950), « Panhandle rag », « At the jazz band ball » or « Walking with the blues », to name just a few classic Krupa jazz sides.
A year later, free from his contract with Gene Krupa, Bobby Soots went solo for two sessions for Mercury records, apparently cut in Chicago. Eight tracks were recorded circa February/March 1951, whose only four were released, leaving unissued a promising « Fiddle boogie ». Among the issued tunes were Amos Milburn’s « Bad, bad whiskey » (Mercury 6326), and most of all, the immortal « (Help me lose the) Boogie woogie blues » (great steel solo!), often reissued (Mercury 6331). B-sides are less interesting, « I’m crying » and «Have you forgotten my name ». Soots did not write his own material. After these two issues, one loses his trail, and he seems to have disappeared afterwards.
Gene Krupa (Bobby Soots, vocalist) “Walking with the blues”
Gene Krupa (Bobby Soots, vocalist), “Panhandle rag”
Bobby Soots, “(Help me lose the) Boogie woogie blues” (Mercury 6331)
Bobby Soots, “I’m crying”
Bobby Soots, “Have you forgotten my name”
Bobby Soots solo discography:
(vo) with instrumental accompaniment: g, rh. g, p, steel, str.b.. Poss. Chicago, circa Feb. 1951
7208 Bad, bad whiskey Mercury 6326
7209 Fiddle boogie unissued
7210 I’m cryin’ Mercury 6326
7211 A thousand times too many unissued
(vo) with fiddle, piano, rh. gtr, g, steel, str.b. circa September/october 1951
7232 Help me lose the boogie boogie blues Mercuy 6331
7233 Goin’, goin’, gone unissued
7234 Lots of nothin’ –
7235 Have you forgotten my name Mercury 6331
Source: Internet for the Gene Krupa records, Bobby Soots photograph and Billboard snippets. Thanks to Ronald Keppner for scan/mp3 of Mercury 6326. Discographical details from Michel Ruppli’s “Mercury label” vol. 1.