Born Mary Jewel King, 21 June 1910, Texas
Texas-born R&B singer Jewel King moved to New Orleans in the mid-forties. By 1948 she began to make a name for herself as she worked many local clubs like the Club Rocket, the Club Desire and the Dew Drop. In that year she had her first recording session, for DeLuxe Records, but these tracks ("Go Now" and "Passion Blues") were never issued. Her next visit to a recording studio (Cosimo's of course, the only studio in New Orleans) took place on November 29, 1949. This was the first session that Dave Bartholomew produced for Imperial. It was a split session with Tommy Ridgley, who recorded "Shrewsbury Blues" (Imperial 5054), his very first single. Backed by the Bartholomew band (Dave Bartholomew, Joe Harris, Herb Hardesty, Red Tyler, Salvador Doucette, Ernest McLean, Frank Fields, Earl Palmer), Jewel recorded four tracks : "3 x 7 = 21", "Don't Marry Too Soon", "Low Down Feeling" and a new version of "Passion Blues", which had been rejected by DeLuxe. "3 x 7 = 21" (with a fine tenor solo by Red Tyler) was released in January 1950 and climbed to # 4 on the R&B charts. Fats Domino's "The Fat Man" also charted at this time and Imperial honcho Lew Chudd set up a national tour for the two acts, with King headlining. At the last minute, Jewel bailed out because her husband /bandleader (Jack Scott) refused to let her tour without his band. Bartholomew told her she was making a big mistake and left without her, with Tommy Ridgley as a replacement. Imperial issued three further Jewel King singles during 1950, but they sold poorly. Jewel's last session took place in 1952 when she recorded "Round About Love Time", an obvious attempt to repeat the success of "3 x 7 = 21", but it was not to be. Jewel King remained a one-hit wonder. Dave Bartholomew concludes: "Jewel started working with Jack Scott's band. The last I heard they'd moved to San Antonio and were working at the Keyhole Club. This was back in the mid-fifties and that's the last I've ever heard from her".
Two unissued tracks from the 1952 session, "Guide Me" and "Freight Train" were released in France on a 10-inch Pathe-Marconi LP (1566390) in 1986.
"3 x 7 = 21" (also recorded by the Spiders in 1954) is available on several compilations, for instance "The Genius of Dave Bartholomew" (2 CD-set from EMI, 1992). The 4-CD set "Gettin' Funky : The Birth of New Orleans R&B" (Properbox 28, from 2001) includes four tracks by Jewel. Among them is "3 x 7 = 21", but ... this is an entirely different song, though it also includes the line "Yes, I'm three times seven". The discography that accompanies the Proper set says that this is the recording from 1949, but it is obvious that this was recorded in 1955 or 1956, with a very good solo by Lee Allen. The sound of the Bartholomew band is almost the same as on Dave Bartholomew's "Would You" (Imperial 5390, which was recorded October 26, 1955). The singer on this version of "3 x 7 = 21" is probably not Jewel King at all, for according to all available sources, she did not record after 1952. A bit of a mystery. Can anyone clarify?
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