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Ben Branch
Birth name Ben F. Branch
Born 1924
Died August 27, 1987(1987-08-27)
Genres Jazz

Ben F. Branch (1924 – August 27, 1987) was an American entrepreneur, jazz tenor saxophonist, and bandleader.

Although possibly better known as being one of the last people Martin Luther King Jr spoke to moments before his assassination in 1968,[1] Branch had been a leading bandleader for many years.

Musical career[edit]

With his brother, Thomas, on trumpet, Branch was a member of the horn section on B.B. King's first recordings for Bullet Records in 1949. "My very first recordings were for a company out of Nashville called Bullet, the Bullet Record Transcription company," King recalls. "I had horns that very first session. I had Phineas Newborn on piano; his father played drums, and his brother, Calvin, played guitar with me. I had Tuff Green on bass, Ben Branch on tenor sax, his brother, Thomas Branch, on trumpet, and a lady trombone player."[2]

Branch recorded with King again on an early 1952 Memphis recording with the B.B. King Orchestra with, among others, Hank Crawford and Ike Turner.

For much of the 1950s, Branch was the bandleader for the houseband, The Largos, at Curry's Club in North Memphis, which occasioned a young Isaac Hayes his first professional gigs.[3][4]

Future M.G. bassist Donald "Duck" Dunn was the first white member of Branch's big band in the early 1960s.[5]

In 1982 Branch founded the American Music Hall of Fame, a private music school in Chicago.

A few months before his death Branch appeared with his band at the 1987 Chicago Blues Festival backing Rosco Gordon.[6]

Branch also recorded with Brother Jack McDuff and Etta James, Little Milton and Phil Upchurch.

Branch held a degree in music from Memphis State University.

Business career[edit]

Branch was president of Doctor Products Inc., founded in 1983, in Chicago, Illinois, the nation's only black-owned soft-drink manufacturing company. The company eventually signed a $355 million agreement with Kemmerer Bottling Group, bottler of several well-known soft drinks, including 7Up, to distribute the Doctor Products beverages.[7]

Operation Breadbasket[edit]

As musical director for the SCLC's Operation Breadbasket he led the Breadbasket Orchestra and Choir that performed benefits for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Operation/PUSH. Just moments before being assassinated, Dr. King had just asked Branch to play a Negro spiritual, "Precious Lord, Take My Hand," at a rally that was to have been held two hours later.[8]

Cannonball Adderley, in the introduction to the title track of his 1969 album Country Preacher, makes a specific mention of Branch in recognition of his work as leader of the Operation Breadbasket Orchestra and Choir.[9]

While musical director of the Breadbasket Orchestra and Operation/PUSH, he arranged for gospel singer Deleon Richards to perform at the Chicago Stadium (later the United Center).[10]

Discography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Ben Branch, 59, musician and civil rights activist, died Thursday 27 in Provident Medical Center after suffering a stroke. Mr. Branch, a South Side resident, was the last person to whom Martin Luther King Jr. spoke moments before his assassination at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis on April 4, 1968. King asked Mr. Branch, a saxophonist, to play his favorite gospel song, 'Precious Lord,' at a rally later that night." Chicago Sun-Times, August 28, 1987.
  2. ^ Blues Access Interview by Wayne Robins (Spring 1999) – Accessed January 23, 2009.
  3. ^ The Memphis Sound: Lost and Found
  4. ^ Bowman, Rob Soulsville, U.S.A.: the story of Stax Records Music Sales Group, 2003 ISBN 0-8256-7284-8, ISBN 978-0-8256-7284-2 at Google Books
  5. ^ ejazznews.com
  6. ^ June 7, 1987 "Rosco Gordon with the Ben Branch Band" City of Chicago Official Tourism Site
  7. ^ Post-Tribune (IN), August 29, 1987.
  8. ^ "Martin Luther King Is Slain in Memphis; A White Is Suspected; Johnson Urges Calm" The New York Times
  9. ^ Thomas, Lorenzo & Lynn Nielsen, Aldon Don't Deny My Name: words and music and the black intellectual tradition, University of Michigan Press, 2008 ISBN 0-472-06892-X, 9780472068920 at Google Books
  10. ^ Chicago Defender Online
  11. ^ Atlantic Records discography: 1964

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Branch — Please support Wikipedia.
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282967 videos foundNext > 

Ben Branch and The Operation Breadbasket Orchestra - Precious Lord Take My Hand (1968)

Ben Branch and The Operation Breadbasket Orchestra and Choir Precious Lord Take My Hand (Album "The Last Request") Solo: Clay Evans ©1968 Chess Records (By R...

Ben Branch 2013

this is my clip from 2013 , thanks to ryan kayes for filming and also a big thanks to Anthony cox for filming/editing .im looking for sponsorship at the mome...

Ben Branch

ben branch honey man 7''

nice popcorn groover,yeahhhh.

Ben Branch and The Operation Breadbasket Orchestra - Let Us Break Bread Together (1968)

Ben Branch and The Operation Breadbasket Orchestra and Choir Let Us Break Bread Together (Album "The Last Request") ©1968 Chess Records (By Request)

BEN BRANCH HIGHER & HIGHER

This is a super funky version of the Jackie Wilson classic. I am so digging it..........

Ben Branch and The Operation Breadbasket Orchestra - Hard Times (1968)

Ben Branch and The Operation Breadbasket Orchestra and Choir Hard Times (Album "The Last Request") ©1968 Chess Records (By Request)

BEN BRANCH - Motherless child - CHESS

Great mod jazz gospel! Follow us on http://nutslitevenueroma.blogspot.com/

Ben Branch and The Operation Breadbasket Orchestra - Yield Not To Temptation (1968)

Ben Branch and The Operation Breadbasket Orchestra and Choir Yield Not To Temptation (Album "The Last Request") ©1968 Chess Records (By Request)

Taylor Swift - I Knew You Were Trouble (BEN BRANCH/DJ Czak Remix)

Shoutout to DJ Czak for the beat.....A sample of Taylor Swift's "I Knew You Were Trouble" with a rap/hip hop twist brought to you by BEN B... http://www.hotn...

282967 videos foundNext > 

2 news items

Henderson Daily Dispatch (registration)

Henderson Daily Dispatch (registration)
Sat, 12 Apr 2014 06:10:28 -0700

Ben Branch led the Warriors with five goals, Nick Meador had four and Luke Wheeless tallied three. Also scoring were Bruce Clay, Garrod Watts, Tony Bowden, Nolan Boyd, and Cameron Blanchard. An exodus of seniors last spring left Webb rebuilding.
 
Tulsa World
Fri, 04 Apr 2014 00:10:25 -0700

He pleaded guilty and was given a 99-year prison term. He died in prison April 23, 1999. The Rev. Jesse Jackson said he and others in the King party were preparing to go to dinner when King was shot just after he had told Ben Branch, "My man, be sure ...
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