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Friday, September 20, 2013

Texas Pete Mayes

Pete Mayes (March 21, 1938 – December 16, 2008) was an American Texas blues singer, guitarist and songwriter. He was variously known as Texas Pete Mayes and T-Bone Man; the latter a reference to his guitar playing resembling his hero, T-Bone Walker. Mayes' made few recordings but For Pete's Sake was released in 1998, nearly fifty years after Mayes first appeared on stage. It was his most widely distributed recording, and won the Blues Foundation's W.C. Handy Award for 'comeback album of the year' Floyd Davis Mayes was born and raised in Double Bayou, Texas. The town was home to a dance hall, which played a significant part in Mayes' life. As a child he learned with a cheap guitar without a full set of strings and practiced for hours each day. Mayes was aged 16 when T-Bone Walker invited him on stage to perform. In the early 1950s, Mayes played with various bands at his local dance hall. After several years he led his own group, opening the show for touring musicians. While in the United States Army, Mayes worked with The Contrasts, which comprised three white and three black musicians. Mayes learned from watching T-Bone Walker and Gatemouth Brown, and he later cited Walker, B.B. King, Kenny Burrell, plus Lowell Fulson as major influences. In 1960 Mayes relocated to Houston, and during the following decade he played with Fulson, Big Joe Turner, Percy Mayfield, Bill Doggett, and Junior Parker. Mayes also toured with the jazz musicians, Count Basie and Dizzy Gillespie. Unable to make a living as a full-time musician, Mayes worked as a ranch hand and then as a painter for the Houston Independent School District. He retired from the latter job with disability pay. Mayes did perform whenever possible. He undertook tours in the 1970s and played frequently in the 1990s, even though his health had started to fail. In 1983, he inherited from an uncle ownership of his local dance hall. In 1986, Double Trouble Records of the Netherlands issued Texas Guitar Master, which included a live 'Battle of the Guitars' with Joe "Guitar" Hughes. In 1996, Mayes appeared on the bill of the Long Beach Blues Festival. By the time For Pete's Sake was released (1998), Mayes was still actively managing the Double Bayou dance hall. Following years of ill health, which included heart problems, diabetes mellitus and the amputation of both legs, Mayes died in Houston in December 2008, aged 70. Mayes was survived by his wife, son and a brother.

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