Show Summary Details

Page of

Printed from Grove Music Online. Grove is a registered trademark. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a single article for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy).

date: 13 November 2019

Houston, Joe [Joseph Abraham]free

  • Howard Rye

(b Austin, TX, July 12, 1927; d Long Beach, CA, Dec 28, 2015). American tenor saxophonist, singer, and leader. He began his career on alto saxophone and at the age of 15 joined the marching band at Sam Houston College; in his late teens he played in Orlando, Florida, in a band that included Cannonball Adderley and Ray Charles. After touring for five months with the singer Gatemouth Moore he signed up with Amos Milburn in Houston to begin nine months of one-nighters, playing tenor saxophone. He then served as third alto saxophonist in King Kolax’s band, worked with Betty Roche, and went to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to join Joe Turner (ii), with whom he made his first recordings, for the local Rouge label. He also recorded in Houston in 1949 under his own name for the Freedom label. Houston began leading his own jump/rhythm-and-blues band in late 1950 and moved to Los Angeles in 1952. His group, which made numerous recordings and toured extensively, featured the fashionable honking style of the time, but the band retained strong roots in the jump idiom, as may be heard on the pairing Hurricane/Bobby Sox Ramble (1952, Imperial 5196). Houston was also an effective blues shouter, heard to advantage on Jump the Blues (1949, Freedom 1535). In the 1960s he worked as a session musician for the Crown label, but his career went into decline until the late 1980s, when he began touring again, appearing at festivals in both America and Europe. He continued to tour internationally and record into the new century.


  • H. Davis and C. Escott: Liner notes, Earthquake (Imperial 1561381, 1985)
  • M. Johnson: “Honkin’ Joe Houston,” Living Blues, no.92 (1990), 27
  • J. Dawson: Liner notes, Blows Crazy! (Ace 772, 2000)