Tiny Topsy

Last updated
Tiny Topsy
Birth nameOtha Lee Moore
Also known asOtha Lee Moore Hall
Born(1930-05-22)May 22, 1930
Chicago, Illinois, United States
DiedAugust 16, 1964(1964-08-16) (aged 34)
Chicago, Illinois, United States
Genres R&B
Occupation(s) Singer
Instruments Vocals
Years activeMid 1940s–1964
Labels Federal, Argo, King Records

Otha Lee Moore (May 22, 1930 – August 16, 1964), [1] better known as Tiny Topsy, was an American R&B singer. The music journalist, Mark Lamarr, noted "Tiny in the same spirit you'd call a bald man curly, Tiny Topsy definitely had the lungpower to match her name." [2] She was five feet tall and weighed 250 pounds. [3]


Although none of her seven single releases made the national charts, [4] her early version of "Just a Little Bit" preceded bigger success for the song. Tiny Topsy was once believed to be an alias used by Bernice Williams (who wrote Tiny Topsy's track, "Western Rock 'N' Roll"), although pop historians now discount the idea. [5]

Life and career

Otha Lee Moore was born in Chicago, the daughter of Annabell and Casey Moore, and was raised in nearby Robbins, Illinois, United States. [1] [6] She began her singing career in the mid-1940s, fronting Al Smith's eight-piece jazz and rhythm and blues band in her home town. [6] [5] Her backing outfit went on to become the house band for labels including Chance, Parrot and Vee-Jay, and turned out over eighty recording sessions between 1952 and 1959, but all of them without Tiny Topsy's involvement. [6]

Her first recording session was on July 9, 1957 in Cincinnati, and resulted in "Aw! Shucks Baby" (Federal Records), incorporating a Ray Felder tenor saxophone solo. [7] Another track recorded was "Miss You So", with the resultant single release billed as by Tiny Topsy and the Five Chances. [6] The B-side, "Miss You So", was a cover version of an earlier hit for Lillian Offitt. The third cut at the session, "A Woman's Intuition", was not issued until 1988. Her next single was "Come On, Come On, Come On" b/w "Ring Around My Finger", when she was again backed by the vocal group the Charms, [8] who this time got credit on the resulting label. [7] Another rock-laden track, "You Shocked Me", was her third release on Federal. Both "Come On, Come On, Come On" and "You Shocked Me" saw a UK release by Parlophone, a rarity for American R&B tracks of the day. [6] Tiny Topsy's fourth Federal single was written by Bernice Williams. "Western Rock 'n' Roll" incorporated small sequences of the then-current hits "Lollipop", "At the Hop", "Get a Job", and "Short Shorts". It opened with gunshots and having been recorded on March 19, 1958, predated the Olympics hit, "Western Movies" by three months. AllMusic mused that sound effects on "Western Movies" were inspired by "Western Rock 'n' Roll". [6] In 1959, she recorded "After Marriage Blues" (also known as "How You Changed") and "Working On Me, Baby" which were released on Argo Records. [5]

Her next single, which proved to be her last with Federal, was "Just a Little Bit" (1959). [4] [5] Rosco Gordon had a number 2 US Billboard R&B chart hit with his version in 1960. [6] An alternate recording of "Aw! Shucks Baby" with "Everybody Needs Some Loving" on the B-side was released by King Records in 1963, months prior to her death. [7]

She had married Samuel Hall, a Chicago night club owner, [3] and was therefore sometimes known as Otha Lee Moore Hall. [6]

Tiny Topsy died on August 16, 1964, in Cook County Hospital in Chicago, at the age of 34 of an intracerebral hemorrhage, following an evening of performing at her husband's club. [7] She was buried at Burr Oak Cemetery. [1]

There are several compilation albums available which encompass all of her recorded work, including Aw! Shucks, Baby (1988). [9]

Singles discography

1957"Aw! Shucks, Baby" / "Miss You So" Federal Records
1957"Come On, Come On, Come On" / "Ring Around My Finger"Federal Records
1958"You Shocked Me" / "Waterproof Eyes"Federal Records
1958"Western Rock 'n' Roll" / "Cha Cha Sue "Federal Records
1959"After Marriage Blues" / "Working On My Baby" Argo Records
1959"Just a Little Bit" / "Everybody Needs Some Loving"Federal Records
1963"Aw! Shucks Baby" / "Everybody Needs Some Loving" King Records

[7] [10] [11] [12]

Related Research Articles

Jimmy Reed American blues musician and songwriter

Mathis James Reed was an American blues musician and songwriter. His particular style of electric blues was popular with blues as well as non-blues audiences. Reed's songs such as "Honest I Do" (1957), "Baby What You Want Me to Do" (1960), "Big Boss Man" (1961), and "Bright Lights, Big City" (1961) appeared on both Billboard magazine's rhythm and blues and Hot 100 singles charts.

LaVern Baker American rhythm and blues singer

Delores LaVern Baker was an American R&B singer who had several hit records on the pop chart in the 1950s and early 1960s. Her most successful records were "Tweedle Dee" (1955), "Jim Dandy" (1956), and "I Cried a Tear" (1958).

Sam & Dave American soul and R&B duo

Sam & Dave were an American soul and R&B duo who performed together from 1961 until 1981. The tenor (higher) voice was Sam Moore and the baritone/tenor (lower) voice was Dave Prater (1937–1988).

Charles Brown (musician) American blues singer and pianist

Tony Russell "Charles" Brown was an American singer and pianist whose soft-toned, slow-paced nightclub style influenced West Coast blues in the 1940s and 1950s. Between 1949 and 1952, Brown had seven Top 10 hits in the U.S. Billboard R&B chart. His best-selling recordings included "Driftin' Blues" and "Merry Christmas Baby".

Darlene Love American singer and actress

Darlene Wright, known professionally as Darlene Love, is an American singer and actress. She was the lead singer of the girl group the Blossoms and she also recorded as a solo artist.

Esther Phillips American singer

Esther Phillips was an American singer, best known for her R&B vocals. She rose to prominence in 1950, scoring several major R&B hits including "Double Crossing Blues" and "Mistrustin' Blues" under the moniker "Little Esther". In the 1960s, she achieved chart success with the country song "Release Me" and recorded in the pop, jazz, blues and soul genres. Phillips received a Grammy nomination for her single "Home Is Where the Hatred Is" in 1973 and her disco recording of "What a Diff'rence a Day Makes" was a major hit in 1975. She died from liver and kidney failure due to long-term drug abuse in 1984.

The Miracles American rhythm and blues / soul vocal group

The Miracles were an American rhythm and blues vocal group that was the first successful recording act for Berry Gordy's Motown Records, and one of the most important and influential groups in pop, rock and roll, soul and R&B music history.

Juice Newton American pop and country singer

Judy Kay "Juice" Newton is an American pop and country singer, songwriter, and musician. To date, Newton has received five Grammy Award nominations in the Pop and Country Best Female Vocalist categories – winning once in 1983 – as well as an ACM Award for Top New Female Artist and two Billboard Female Album Artist of the Year awards. Newton's other awards include a People's Choice Award for "Best Female Vocalist" and the Australian Music Media's "Number One International Country Artist."

Melba Moore American singer and actress

Beatrice Melba Hill or Beatrice Melba Smith, known by her stage name Melba Moore, is an American singer and actress.

Misty Blue 1967 single by Eddy Arnold

"Misty Blue" is a song written by Bob Montgomery that has been recorded and made commercially successful by several music artists. Although Montgomery wrote the song for a different artist in mind, it was brought first to the attention of Wilma Burgess in 1966. It was recorded by Eddy Arnold the following year, both versions were top 5 Country Hits. A decade later, blues artist Dorothy Moore released the highest-charting version of the song and it reached the top ten in several different radio formats. Following Moore's revival of the track, numerous artists re-covered the tune, including country artist Billie Jo Spears. Spears's version would also go on to become a successful single release. Numerous other artists and musicians of different genres have recorded their own versions of "Misty Blue". The song is now considered both a country music and blues standard.

Ray Charles discography

This is a discography of American musician Ray Charles.

Otha Leon Haywood was an American funk and soul singer, songwriter, and record producer. He is best known for his 1975 hit single "I Want'a Do Something Freaky to You", which has been frequently sampled by musicians such as Dr. Dre among others.

Baby, Please Dont Go Traditional blues standard

"Baby, Please Don't Go" is a traditional blues song that was popularized by Delta blues musician Big Joe Williams in 1935. Many cover versions followed, leading to its description as "one of the most played, arranged, and rearranged pieces in blues history" by French music historian Gérard Herzhaft.

Love to Love You Baby (song) 1975 single by Donna Summer

"Love to Love You Baby" is a song by American singer Donna Summer from her second studio album of the same name. Produced by Pete Bellotte, and written by Italian musician Giorgio Moroder, Summer, and Bellotte, the song was first released as a single in the Netherlands in June 1975 as "Love to Love You" and then released worldwide in November 1975 as "Love to Love You Baby". It became one of the first disco hits to be released in an extended form.

<i>Elvis Gold Records Volume 4</i> 1968 greatest hits album by Elvis Presley

Elvis' Gold Records Volume 4 is a greatest hits album by American rock and roll singer Elvis Presley, issued by RCA Victor in mono and stereo, LPM/LSP 3921, in January 1968, with recording sessions taking place over an eight-year span at RCA Studio B in Nashville, Tennessee, and at RCA Studios and Radio Recorders in Hollywood. It is a compilation of hit singles released between 1961 and 1967, peaking at number 33 on the Billboard 200. It was certified Gold on March 27, 1992 by the Recording Industry Association of America.

Bernice Williams is an American songwriter and music business manager, who wrote the 1960s song "Duke of Earl" along with Gene Chandler and Earl Edwards. The song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2002 and is in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the 500 songs that shaped rock and roll. In the 1960s, she wrote three Billboard Hot 100 hit songs.

Caldonia Jump blues standard

"Caldonia" is a jump blues song, first recorded in 1945 by Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five. A version by Erskine Hawkins, also in 1945, was described by Billboard magazine as "right rhythmic rock and roll music".

Just a Little Bit (Rosco Gordon song) 1959 single by Rosco Gordon

"Just a Little Bit" is an R&B-style blues song recorded by Rosco Gordon in 1959. It was a hit in both the R&B and pop charts. Called "one of the standards of contemporary blues," "Just a Little Bit" has been recorded by various other artists, including Little Milton and Roy Head, who also had record chart successes with the song.

Edward James Cooley was an American R&B singer and songwriter, who co-wrote the much-recorded song "Fever." He also had a US pop hit in 1956 with "Priscilla," credited to Eddie Cooley and the Dimples.

<i>Well Kept Secret</i> (Juice Newton album) 1978 studio album by Juice Newton

Well Kept Secret is the fourth studio album by country pop singer Juice Newton. Her first three albums – Juice Newton and Silver Spur (1975) and After the Dust Settles (1976) for RCA Records, and Come to Me for Capitol (1977) – were credited to the group Juice Newton and Silver Spur. Well Kept Secret was released by Capitol in 1978 and is Newton's first album as a solo artist, though Silver Spur remained her backing band for five more years. The album marked Newton's most rock-oriented record up to that time and features five songs written by her long-time collaborator Otha Young. Other songs on the album include cover versions of Bruce Channel's 1961 hit "Hey! Baby" and the Holland–Dozier–Holland song, "A Love Like Yours ", which was originally recorded in 1963 by Martha and the Vandellas as the B-side to their hit single "Heat Wave". Newton's rendition of "Hey! Baby" was the only single released from Well Kept Secret. Neither charted, prompting rock critic Jim Worbois to note: "The title of this album seems to apply to her career as much as anything. She was still a couple years away from any substantial success. Newton seems to be without direction on this record and, as such, is trying some harder-edged material."


  1. 1 2 3 Eagle, Bob; LeBlanc, Eric S. (2013). Blues – A Regional Experience. Santa Barbara: Praeger Publishers. pp. 45–46. ISBN   978-0-313-34423-7.
  2. Tiny Topsy. Roc-King Up A Storm (Westside WESA 801) (Media notes). Retrieved 2016-10-05.
  3. 1 2 Company, Johnson Publishing (1964-09-03). Jet. p. 59. Retrieved 2016-10-05.
  4. 1 2 "Tiny Topsy & Lula Reed – Just A Little Bit – Federal's Queens Of New Breed R&B". Ace Records. Retrieved 2016-10-05.
  5. 1 2 3 4 "Tiny Topsy | Biography & History". AllMusic . Retrieved 2016-10-04.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 "Tiny Topsy". Rockabilly.nl. Retrieved 2016-10-05.
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 "Doowopheaven: Tiny Topsy". Doowopheaven.blogspot.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-10-05.
  8. Jay Warner (2006). American Singing Groups: A History from 1940s to Today . Hal Leonard Corporation. p.  110. ISBN   978-0-634-09978-6 . Retrieved 2016-10-05 via Internet Archive. tiny topsy.
  9. "Tiny Topsy – Aw! Shucks Baby (Vinyl, LP)". Discogs.com. 2013-07-29. Retrieved 2016-10-05.
  10. "Tiny Topsy Discography". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2016-10-05.
  11. "WangDangDula.com". Koti.mbnet.fi. Retrieved 2016-10-05.
  12. "Tiny Topsy Discography – USA". 45cat.com. Retrieved 2016-10-05.