Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson
This late Houston native worked throughout the 1930s and '40s as an alto sax player in big bands alongside such noted players as Arnett Cobb and Illinois Jacquet. In the '40s, Vinson fronted trumpeter Cootie Williams' band as a singer and horn player. Instrumentally, Vinson played in a swinging, harmonically sophisticated style that did more than hint at the nascent Bebop scene of the day, but it was as a vocalist that he truly distinguished himself. Working with some of the best players in jazz and blues, and often blurring the line between the two forms, Vinson sang his signature son "Cherry Red" in a distinctive voice that dissolved into a raspy falsetto at the end of a lyrical line. He died in 1988, but he was able to take full advantage of the '60s blues revival that brought him an all-new international audience.