From The Desk Of Superdrag’s John Davis: Charles Mingus’ “Oh Yeah”

John Davis wanted rock ‘n’ roll, but he didn’t want to deal with the hassle. The Superdrag frontman broke up his band in 2003, got religion and issued a pair of solo albums, putting a seemingly tight lid on the legacy of his Knoxville, Tenn., outfit. Apparently, Davis is willing to be bothered again: Superdrag’s original lineup reconvened to record Industry Giants, a new album due March 17. This week, MAGNET celebrates the return of Superdrag by handing Davis the reins to our website, where he’ll share his favorite music, films, food, literature and more. Read our Q&A with Davis about the comeback here.


Davis: Charles Mingus sings(!) and plays piano in his own inimitable style on this fiery gospel- and blues-fueled set from 1961. Doug Watkins ably handles the daunting task of playing bass on a Mingus recording. Mingus was well-known to boast about his ability on piano (where he did most of his composing), and in this particular case, he famously offered critics of his singing a punch in the mouth. Here’s how he responded to Harvey Pekar’s less than sympathetic review in Down Beat: “My efforts at blues singing were not meant to challenge such diverse masters as Joe Turner, Ray Charles or Big Bill Broonzy, and I don’t think their singing was meant as a challenge to each other or to me. No one could sing my blues but me (if you must call it singing), just as no one could holler for you if I decide to punch you in your mouth.”

One reply on “From The Desk Of Superdrag’s John Davis: Charles Mingus’ “Oh Yeah””

I am an artist and I would like to use the photograph of Mingus as a reference for one of my paintings. If you know, please tell me who the photographer is and how I might reach him.
Gary Williams

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