HEY LOCO FANS – Happy birthday to blues club owner, amateur boxer, and blues harp extraordinaire, Big George Brock, who was born on this day in 1932.

Brock was born in Grenada, Mississippi and by the time he was eight, he was working as a sharecropper picking cotton. Brock was surrounded by blues music, and recalled, “the blues grew like grass out of the ground.” His father taught him and his brothers how to play harmonica as a child.

As a teenager he moved to Mattson, Mississippi. There he met Muddy Waters, and they performed together on weekends. In the late 1940s he moved to Walls, Mississippi. While working as a pipeliner on Highway 61, Brock met Howlin’ Wolf. He became his roadie and performed with him. Brock also met Memphis Minnie in Walls and jammed with her at house parties.

Brock moved to St. Louis in 1950 where he was an amateur boxer for a while. In 1952, boxer Sonny Liston was training at a gym alongside Brock. Liston challenged Brock to sparring match. Brock won the fight in the second round, recalling that “he’d just come out of the pen. He thought he was pretty tough.” He focused on his music career because it was more lucrative, forming his own band Big George & the Houserockers. Blues guitarist Albert King played in Brock’s band before forming his own.

In 1952, Brock opened his own nightclub, Club Caravan, near North Garrison and Franklin avenues. Brock worked as a bouncer and performed there with his band which at times featured King, Big Baddy Smitty, or Riley Coatie on lead guitar. The club hosted acts such as Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Ike & Tina Turner, and Jimmy Reed.

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