I’m Not Walking My Dog, I’m Looking for My Pig! Special Edition: Joe Tex/Ray Hoff and the Offbeats: Joe Tex — “Looking for My Pig”, Ray Hoff and the Off Beats — “Lookin’ for My Pigs”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — February 15, 2023


732) Joe Tex — “Looking for My Pig”

“Where you at, Rufus?” JT’s ’64 novelty homage to Rufus Thomas’s big novelty hit “Walking the Dog” is a hoot, coming months before “Hold What You’ve Got”, his big pop hit breakthrough single.

As Richie Unterberger says, in the early ’60’s Joe (see #42, 455, 609) “as was the case in the pre-fame recordings of numerous ’60s soul stars — was still searching for a style to some degree”. (https://www.allmusic.com/album/first-on-the-dial-early-singles-and-rare-gems-mw0000791159) Michael Jack Kirby gives a fabulous introduction to Joseph Arrington, Jr.:

In 1965 . . . [he] had his first big hit, “Hold What You’ve Got.”  Perseverance got him to that point as he’d been making records for almost ten years. [Joe Tex] . . . . had advice for everyone, especially when it came to romance and moral behavior. The long road to stardom got under way in 1955 when he made the journey from the Lone Star State to New York City’s Apollo Theater, taking control of the crowds and coming in first place on more than one “Amateur Night.” Syd Nathan, owner of King records, offered him a chance to record . . . . After several releases but no breakthrough hit, King cut him loose and he headed back to Texas, where he served as a minister . . . . Tex joined the Ace [Records] roster in 1958 and waxed several singles . . . but . . . none were hits. . . . He [did] perfect[] some mean dance moves, including an impressive microphone stand gimmick by letting the stand fall to the floor as he grabs it with his foot just in time, proceeding to kick it around while dancing and singing, never missing a beat of the song. Those kinds of stage moves . . . would later get him into a skirmish with a certain “Mr. Dynamite.” Joe had . . . a few singles for the Anna label . . . “Baby You’re Right,” was interpreted with minor changes by James Brown . . . and hit the pop charts, and R&B top ten . . . the first major hit with Joe’s name attached. Any good feelings Joe had towards James was short-lived, though, when the latter made claims that the former had copied his moves onstage. Joe’s reply was to make fun of JB’s cape-wearing “Please, Please, Please” routine at a concert, and when James began dating Joe’s ex-wife . . . the two cut ties permanently.

The break of a lifetime came when Joe met William “Buddy” Killen. . . . Buddy worked for Big Tree Publishing . . . . Tex and Killen clicked when they first met and a deal was struck . . . . T en singles came out . . . between 1961 and 1964 . . . . with the same frustrating results [as before]. Joe was ready to call it quits and move on . . . [but] Killen convinced him to hang in there a little longer. [The ’64 single] “Hold What You’ve Got[]” . . . went top ten on the pop charts and number one R&B in January 1965. . . . The Tex-Killen team was a well-oiled machine in those hitmaking years of the mid-to-late 1960s and the two became very close friends. Buddy produced and Joe continued doing all the songwriting himself . . . . [H]e caught a hot groove in 1967 with “Show Me,” . . [and] “Skinny Legs and All[] . . was a smash hit beyond all expectations; top ten, a million seller and Grammy nominee to boot. . . .


Dave Marsh adds that:

Joe Tex made the first Southern soul record that also hit on the pop charts . . . . His raspy-voiced, jackleg preacher style also laid some of the most important parts of rap’s foundation. He is, arguably, the most underrated of all the ’60s soul performers associated with Atlantic Records . . . . Tex made his mark by preaching over tough hard soul tracks, clowning at some points, swooping into a croon at others. He was perhaps the most rustic and back-country of the soul stars, a role he played to the hilt . . . . His biggest hit was “Skinny Legs and All,” from a 1967 live album, his rapping pure hokum over deeply funky riffs. “Skinny Legs” might have served as a template for all the raucous, ribald hip-hop hits of pop’s future.


As to why Joe Tex is not in the Rock & Hall of Fame, Roy laments:

Of all of the 60’s soul kingdom in rock Tex is the one name who was as consistent, popular and innovative as virtually any, yet who’s been left behind in recognition ever since. His track record more than holds up against most from that era who are already in, with more than two dozen hits to his name over 15 years, including 6 that went to either #1 or #2 on the R&B Charts, spanning southern soul to pure funk. A prolific writer and extremely influential performer with the oft-imitated microphone trick as his lasting legacy. . . . he remains one of the Hall’s most inexplicable omissions. . . . His influence is vast, as he invented the famed microphone trick on stage that many have imitated, was one of the originators of the country-soul style that was among the 60’s most enduring sounds, and as shown with his nickname, The Dapper Rapper, his vocal style was one of the prototypes for rap with his semi-spoken delivery in many songs. In addition, he wrote all of his own material, which was renown for its smart, humorous, down-home advice and storytelling ability. His candidacy would seem to be bolstered by the fact that many of his contemporaries with appreciably less success than Tex have already gotten in. . . . His early death in 1982 meant that he was not around long enough to become a well-respected elder statesman, and his lack of one massive universally known song to keep his name in the casual listener’s mind relegated him to a second tier act historically when in fact he was on par with almost any of his competitors and made the transition from soul to funk that defined black rock ‘n’ roll in the 60’s and 70’s better than most.



733) Ray Hoff and the Offbeats — “Lookin’ for My Pigs”

Aussie Ray Hoff and the Off Beats give “Pig” “a proper mauling”. (liner notes to Keep Lookin’: 80 More Mod, Soul & Freakbeat Nuggets)

Glenn Baker tells us about Ray:

From the rock’n’roll cauldron of the late 1950s and throughout the beat and soul-funk era of the 1960s and beyond, [Ray Hoff’s] was a name that commanded respect in Australian musical circles even if it was not always familiar in the nation’s households. Kept from a level of prominence . . . by the lack of a signature hit or a solid body of recorded work, Hoff’s fame, as it was, centred around his gruff, powerful, soul voice. . . . In 1958 he fell in with two seminal Australian rock’n’rollers, drummer Leon Isackson and flamboyant pianist Jimmy Taylor, who saw him take the stage . . . and were impressed as much by the frantic femme response he occasioned as by his pipes. A few band competitions later . . . he and his Offbeats were setting Sydney alight with rock’n’roll . . . . It was a heady environment for a time but without a record deal (Teen Records promised but withdrew) and with fairly formidable competition from what mostly became multiple-hit acts, Hoff moved to Adelaide, then Perth, where he was warmly embraced. But it was not until he returned to Sydney in 1965 and put together a new line-up of the Offbeats that things began to fall into some sort of place. Signed to RCA Records, the group recorded four tracks for the label, one of which, a thumping version of Chuck Berry’s Little Queenie, became as close to a hit as he would have. It could have strongly established the act had not Billy Thorpe spirited away two of his Offbeats to form a new Aztecs, leaving Hoff floundering and losing momentum. Despondent, he made his way back to Perth, where he assembled an eight-piece horn-dominated R&B powerhouse version of the Offbeats, which was signed by Clarion Records for an album [that includes “Pigs”] – the only LP he would record until the last decade of his life. During eastern visits this commanding unit was known to give the reigning likes of Jeff St John & the Id [see #470] a bit of a scare. Hoff was one of the most active Australian performers in Vietnam during the war, although due to his soul leanings, he was heard far more by American than Australian servicemen. During one tour of duty he met a go-go dancer called Kay, who became his wife of 25 years.


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