A little while back, I can’t remember how, I stumbled across a reference to a musician named “King Pleasure.” And of course I had to learn more. Here is a quick summary of what I discovered:
King Pleasure was a jazz singer who was born Clarence Beeks (children of the 80s, take note: this was the name of the shady character in Trading Places who leaks the annual orange report and ends the film being buggered by a gorilla). He was one of the pioneers of a style called “vocalese,” where a singer takes an existing instrumental solo and turns it into a vocal melody with words.
I’ve heard some of it and it’s not really my bag; but there is no doubt that the King himself was a remarkable personality. According to the liner notes of Moody’s Mood for Love,
The story I heard was that his name stemmed from his activities as a performer in sexual exhibitions…. While still at [the record label] Prestige he put together a club act, complete with a “massive, purple, swiveling throne” and “a special mike…built into the throne’s arm,” as described in the July 1954 issue of Metronome.
Those liner notes are pretty good, but they are not the Best Liner Notes Ever; that distinction belongs to King Pleasure’s own notes to his 1960 LP Golden Days. And I quote: