Big Boy Myles

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New Orleans R&B singer Edgar "Big Boy" Myles was born in the Crescent City in 1933. While attending Booker T. Washington High School, he and eight of his classmates formed the Sha-Weez (later Sha-Wees) in 1950. According to Marv Goldberg's profile in the September 1977 issue of Yesterday's Memories, the group's odd name derived from their theme song, bandmember Nolan Blackwell's "Cha-Paka-Sha-Wees," which roughly translates from the Creole "We are not raccoons"; during an appearance on local radio, they were introduced as the "'Cha-Paka-Sha-Wees' musicians," and the moniker stuck. Producer Dave Bartholomew signed the Sha-Weez to New Orleans imprint Aladdin Records in late 1952, helming their debut session at Cosimo Matassa's legendary J&M Studios. Bandmate James "Sugar Boy" Crawford was slated to sing lead vocal, but a previous live performance left his voice so strained that Myles stepped to the fore instead; "No One to Love Me" appeared at year's end, becoming a local hit and earning the group live appearances throughout the Gulf Coast region. Still, Aladdin resisted releasing the remaining material from the Sha-Weez's J&M session, nor did the label book another studio date. The group nevertheless remained under contract to the label, but in late 1953 Myles and Crawford began recording for Chess as Sugar Boy and His Cane Cutters. Their Chess debut, "I Don't Know What I'll Do," was the label's first release cut in New Orleans, and enjoyed strong local airplay. The follow-up, "Jock-a-Mo," appeared in early 1954 and also proved a regional favorite. A decade later, the Dixie Cups recut the song as "Iko Iko," one of the most popular and enduring Big Easy R&B records ever made. The third Sugar Boy and His Cane Cutters single, "I Bowed on My Knees," earned the group a residency at the Baton Rouge nightspot the Carousel Club, but brought an end to their Chess affiliation, leaving more than a dozen unreleased sides on the shelf. Myles left the lineup in 1955 to join Li'l Millet & His Creoles; this group -- led by bassist Millet, and also featuring tenor saxophonists Lee Allen and James Victor Lewis, guitarist Ernest Mare, drummer Bartholomew Smith, and Myles' brother Warren on piano -- was playing the Thibodeaux, LA, club the Sugar Bowl when they were discovered by Specialty Records' Bumps Blackwell. They entered J&M in the fall of 1955 to cut "Who's Been Fooling You?," for reasons unknown credited to Big Boy Myles and the Shaw-Wees upon its release on Specialty; a second and final Specialty effort, "Just to Hold My Hand" -- this time featuring New Orleans legends Alvin "Red" Tyler on tenor, Edgar Blanchard on guitar, and Earl Palmer on drums -- appeared in late 1956. Myles did not resurface on disc until 1960, cutting "New Orleans" for Ace. "Oh, Mary" followed a year later. After the failure of his lone V-Tone release, 1961's "She's So Fine" ( with Dr John playing guitar ), Myles dropped from sight until 1968, when he released a one-off for Huey Meaux's Pic-One imprint, "You're Gonna Come Crying." He relocated to New York City sometime thereafter, but little is known of the final years of his life and career. Myles died in New York in 1984. ~ Jason Ankeny, All Music Guide Read more on User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply.