The colourful Gorgeous George had a widespread reputation in the entertainment industry. One of the best stage dress designers, he has provided costumes for a wide variety of people from Muhammed Ali to any number of soul singers, and his long standing tailoring business in Atlanta was widely heralded. He has also earned a living as a dynamic and show-stealing MC whose dancing, sharp dressing and enthusiastic warm-up singing was always very popular with female fans.
Theodopholos George Odell first cut for Neptune in 1961 - the Shaw Brothers New Jersey concern not the more famous Gamble/Huff one. “Now I believe” has more in common with rock ‘n’ roll than soul really – but George’s voice shows some of that hoarse gospel tone that deep soul fans go for. This was even more pronounced on his Atlanta based Hale 45. “Teach Me” is another uptempo offering but it does feature one or two trademark screams which lift it well out of the ordinary.
But these are really nothing compared to his wonderful Stax release. Biggest Fool In Town is rightly regarded as one of THE deep soul tracks on the label. After a gentle opening it blossoms into a fiery cauldron of heartbreak realisation, propelled by some wonderful Cropper guitar, and superbly voiced by George whose throaty delivery and obvious distress are simply outstanding. A masterpiece – no question.
His Peachtree offering came about through his contract with Henry Wynn to MC shows for his Supersonic Attractions booking agency package tours. Wynn was William Bell’s partner in Peachtree and the resulting It’s Not A Hurting Thing is another classic deep soul ballad that shows off George’s gruff tones to great effect.
Sadly George’s final Homark 45s do nothing for me but both of them have fans in the funk camp. Up until this decade George remained in the biz, and most recently has been MCing for the Isley Brothers.
UPDATE - Special thanks to Gail Thomas for the great pic of George.
Now I believe (in miracles) / Will you love me (when I’m old) ~ NEPTUNE 125 (1961)
Teach me / Cross every mountain ~ HALE 501 (1962)
Biggest fool in town / Sweet thing ~ STAX 165 (1965)
Get up off it / It's not a hurting thing ~ PEACHTREE 105 (1968?)
Strange book / Inst ~ HOMARK 0002 (1975)
Fon-Kin (inst.) / Love serenade (inst.) ~ HOMARK 0004 (1976)
Note ~ You can find “Biggest Fool In Town” on the appropriate volume of the CD packages of Complete Stax 45s. “Love’s Not A Hurting Thing” can be found on the Grapevine 2000 CD “Atlanta Soul”. This set also includes the previously unissued “You Can’t Stop A Woman”, a superb mid-paced southern groover with an excellent rap in the bridge.