Gaddy (February 4, 1924 – July 24, 1997) was an American East Coast
blues and rhythm and blues pianist, singer and songwriter. He is best
remembered for his recordings of "Operator" and "Rip and Run," and musical
work he undertook with Larry Dale, Wild Jimmy Spruill,
Sonny Terry and
Gaddy was born in Vivian, West Virginia, a small town based around coal
mining. He learned to play the piano at a young age, both playing and
singing in his local church. In 1943 he was conscripted and served in the
Navy, being stationed in California. He progressed from learning the blues
and, using his gospel background, graduated towards the boogie-woogie
He played in blues clubs in Oakland and San Francisco, but after World War
II finished he relocated to New York in 1946. Gaddy later commented "I came
to New York just to visit, because I was on my way to the West Coast.
Somehow or other, I just got hooked on it. New York got into my system and
I've been stuck here ever since."
He found work as a blues pianist, and in the late 1940s Gaddy provided
accompaniment to both Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry. He later backed Larry
Dale, and befriended Champion Jack
Dupree. Dupree penned "Operator" for Gaddy, one of his best selling
numbers. Gaddy recorded firstly for Jackson Records with his debut single
being "Bicycle Boogie" in 1952. Gaddy later spent time with the Jax, Dot and
Harlem record labels, before joining Hy Weiss' Old Town Records in 1956. It
was here that Gaddy had his most commercially successful period,
particularly with "I Love My Baby," "Paper Lady," and "Rip and Run." His
earlier recordings often had McGhee in the recording studio with Gaddy,
although his Old Town recordings utilised the guitarists Jimmy Spruill and
Joe Ruffin, plus saxophonist Jimmy Wright.
Gaddy ceased his recording activities around 1960. However, along with his
long time friend Larry Dale, Gaddy remained a mainstay of the ongoing New
York blues scene.
In April 1988, Gaddy, Dale and Spruill reunited to play at the Tramps
nightclub in New York.
Bob Gaddy died of lung cancer in the Bronx, New York in July 1997, at the
age of 73.