Nappy Brown

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Nappy Brown
Nappy Brown in Tokyo, Japan, 1996.
Background information
Birth nameNapoleon Brown Goodson Culp
Also known asNappy Brown
Born(1929-10-12)October 12, 1929
Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S.
DiedSeptember 20, 2008(2008-09-20) (aged 78)
Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S.
Genres R&B
Occupation(s) Vocalist, musician, songwriter
Instruments Vocals
Years active19542008
Associated actsThe Heavenly Lights, Nappy Brown and the Heartfixers

Napoleon Brown Goodson Culp [1] (October 12, 1929 September 20, 2008) [2] [3] better known by his stage name Nappy Brown, was an American R&B singer. His hits include the 1955 Billboard chart No. 2 "Don't Be Angry", [4] "Little By Little", and "Night Time Is the Right Time". His style was recognizable; Brown used a wide vibrato, melisma, and distinctive extra syllables, in particular, "li-li-li-li-li."



Brown was the son of Kathryn Culp and Sammie Lee Brown. After his mother died he was brought up by Fred and Maggie Culp. They attended Gethsemane AME Zion Church and he attended school in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Early career

He began his career singing gospel music before switching to R&B. [5] In 1954 he won a recording contract with Savoy Records, which yielded a series of hits, including "Don't Be Angry" (No. 2 R&B, No. 25 pop, 1955), "Pitter Patter" (No. 10 R&B, 1955), "Little By Little" (No. 57 pop, 1956), and "It Don't Hurt No More" (No. 8 R&B, No. 89 pop, 1958). [6] Brown was among the biggest stars in R&B, [7] [8] frequently touring with the revues of Alan Freed. [9]

His songs, along with those of his peers and contemporaries (such as Little Richard, Chuck Berry, and Fats Domino), were among the first wave of African-American pop music to become noticed and popular with white audiences. [10] Elvis Presley reportedly used to see Brown perform whenever he appeared in Memphis. [5] In addition to Brown's influence on blues music, and 1950s R&B and pop, Brown's powerful and protean voice, combined with his distinctive emotive style, is widely viewed as a key link in the development of soul music. [8] [11]

1980s comeback

In the early 1980s, a renewed interest in R&B led to some of Brown's early songs being released on European albums. At the urging of Bob Margolin, former guitarist for Muddy Waters's band and a fan of Brown, Brown returned to the music industry, beginning with a successful tour of Scandinavia in 1983. [12] In 1984, 14 years since his last recording, Brown signed with Landslide Records and released the album Tore Up [13] with The Heartfixers. [14] [15] Other recordings followed. [16]

Brown's Savoy Records hit, "Piddly Patter" was featured in the John Waters film, Cry-Baby , starring Johnny Depp. [17]

Later life

Nappy Brown's final album, Long Time Coming, recorded in May 2007, on Blind Pig Records, was released on September 25, 2007. Reviews were positive; [18] [19] [20] [21] the album and Brown were each nominated for a Blues Music Award. [22] The album, produced by Scott Cable, featured the guitarists Sean Costello, Bob Margolin, Junior Watson, and other special guests performing Brown's hits and several new songs. In the fall of 2007, Nappy Brown was Living Blues magazine's September cover artist, and followed that honor with a European tour. [23] Brown was a musical guest on Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion on October 20, 2007. [24]

At the ceremony for the Blues Music Awards in May 2008, Brown gave one last electrifying performance, capping an incredible comeback year. [25] [26]

On June 1, 2008 following a performance at the Crawfish Festival in Augusta, New Jersey, Brown fell ill due to series of ailments and was hospitalized. [27] He died in his sleep on September 20, 2008 at Mercy Hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina. [3] [28]

Brown was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame on August 24, 2002.

Nappy Brown's 1956 recording of "Open Up That Door", is featured in a national commercial for Google, as of June 2020. [29]


Roots To Scandinavian Blues (LP 1983/remastered 2009) with Knut Reiersrud guitar. Hot Club Records/Jon Larsen. Nappy Brown and The Electric City band. "Who's Been Fooling You" [1997/ new moon music]




YearSingleChart PositionsLabel
1954"I Wonder (What's Wrong With Me)" Savoy
1955"Don't Be Angry"225
"Pitter Patter"10
"Just a Little Love"
"Doodle I Love You"
1956"Open Up That Door (And Walk Right In My Heart)"
"Love, Baby"
"Little By Little"57
1957"Pretty Girl"
"Bye Bye Baby"
"The Right Time"
1958"If You Need Some Lovin'"
"It Don't Hurt No More"889
"You're Going to Need Someone"
1959"This Is My Confession"
"I Cried Like a Baby"22
"Too Shy"
1960"My Baby Knows"
"Apple Of My Eye"
"Nobody Can Say"
1961"Coal Miner"
1962"I've Had My Fun"

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