Joe Houston (born July 11, 1926, in Austin, Texas – died December 28, 2015, in Long Beach, California) was an American saxophonist known for his influential role in the development of R&B and rock ‘n’ roll music. A talented and energetic performer, Houston’s career spanned over six decades, earning him a place in the history of American popular music.
Houston’s love for music began at an early age when he started playing the saxophone. In his teenage years, he moved to Los Angeles and quickly became a fixture in the city’s thriving Central Avenue jazz scene. He began performing with various bands, including the Roy Milton Orchestra and Johnny Otis’s band.
In the late 1940s, Houston transitioned from jazz to R&B, and his powerful, honking saxophone sound became a defining feature of the emerging genre. He recorded his first solo single, “Cornbread and Cabbage Greens,” in 1949, which showcased his raw and energetic style. Over the years, Houston released numerous singles and albums, and his saxophone work graced countless recordings, including those of well-known artists such as Little Richard and Big Joe Turner.
Houston’s most significant commercial success came in the 1950s with his hit instrumental “All Night Long,” which became an anthem for the burgeoning rock ‘n’ roll movement. He continued to tour and perform throughout the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, and his live shows were renowned for their high-energy performances and Houston’s charismatic stage presence.
In the later years of his career, Houston embraced the growing interest in the roots of rock ‘n’ roll, and his music found a new audience among fans of vintage R&B and early rock music. He continued to perform and record well into his 80s, earning a reputation as a living legend and an enduring inspiration for new generations of musicians.
Joe Houston passed away in 2015 at the age of 89, leaving behind a legacy of groundbreaking music and unforgettable performances. His contributions to the development of R&B and rock ‘n’ roll music remain an essential part of American musical history, and his memory continues to inspire musicians and fans alike.
Page last updated 3/19/2023.