Gene “Daddy” Barge is an American saxophonist who was active in the R&B and rock and roll scenes beginning in the 1960s. Barge was born in Norfolk, VA in August 9, 1926 and started playing saxophone after he returned from air force service in World War II. Barge got his first break playing with blues singer Chuck Willis, and recoding the solo to the 1957 #1 R&B hit “C.C. Rider.”
In the early ’60s he became a founding member of The Church Street Five which recorded in Norfolk under Legrand Records, operated by Frank Guida. Up the street at the time, an evangelist named Bishop “Daddy” Grace, led high-energy gospel services. Guida encouraged Barge to capture the feeling of those services and came up with a two-part instrumental, “A Nite With Daddy G,” which became a hit in 1961.
Singer Gary (U.S.) Bonds was on the same label as Barge and came up with words to the song, re-recording it as “Quarter to Three.” The lyrics repeatedly mention “Daddy G” and Barge’s nickname was born. He played on additional Bonds hits and Jimmy Soul’s 1963 hit “If You Wanna Be Happy, ” all well working as a school teacher by day.
When school ended in June, 1964, Barge headed to Chicago and began working for Phil Chess at Chess Records. Barge played on Little Milton’s “We’re Gonna Make It” and Koko Taylor’s “Wang Dang Doodle, ” while also producing work for the Chess label as well. After Chess Records folded in the 1970s, Barge remained in Chicago as an independent producer and session musician.
As a sideline, he began acting with his first major appearance in the 1978 film Stony Island. Subsequently he had smaller roles in Code of Silence with Chuck Norris, Above the Law and Under Siege with Steven Seagal, The Package with Gene Hackman and Chain Reaction with Keanu Reeves and Morgan Freeman. Most famously, he appeared briefly as a cop in The Fugitive with Harrison Ford in 1993.
Barge has worked with a number of top artists, co-producing Natalie Cole’s 1976 Grammy Award winning song, “Sophisticated Lady.” He toured with the Rolling Stones in 1982 and then joined Big Twist and the Mellow Fellows, a Chicago band when he returned. That evolved into the Chicago Rhythm and Blues Kings in 1993 where he also took on singing responsibilities.
Last updated 3/6/2023