Augusta, GA native William "Mickey" Murray had a long and reasonably successful career in the music business, most of it spent in the company of Macon garage owner and record producer Bobby Smith. Sadly for Murray he never really established his own musical identity, as he was rather under the spell of the twin giants of black music from those two cities, Otis Redding and James Brown.
Murray had hustled for gigs locally for several years before Smith took him into a studio to recut a song he had originally recorded on Otis Redding several years before. The frantic rocker “Shout Bamalama” became a big seller in 1967 when leased to SSS Int getting well into the top 20 R & B national charts. For my tastes the ballad flip Lonely Room has considerably more to it. The follow up optimistically entitled “Hit Record” didn’t fare so well. An LP was released to cash in the following year comprising all four issued tracks plus some covers in the 60s LP fashion. But there was one excellent cut that never made it onto a 45, the fine deep Treat Him Right.
Murray cut another 2 singles for the label, and a couple of lively duets with brother Clarence as well, with whom he shared a Muscle Shoals session which produced “Mama’s Got The Wagon” / “Sticky Sue” for my money Mickey's most commercial tracks since the big hit. Both these were upbeat like most of his SSS Int. material, a reflection of Murray’s easy swinging vocal style.
When Singleton lost interest in Southern soul, Smith kept faith with Murray, leasing new product to Federal, with whom he had very good contacts, in the period 1970/2. Three singles and another album “People Are Together” came out, but without achieving any further chart success. In general the songs from this period of his career aren’t quite up to the standard of his earlier work, even though his vocals were just as expressive. A couple of the numbers were penned by that excellent Georgia artist Thomas Bailey, and there were a couple of covers – Otis R’s “Fat Gal” and a very funky version of O V’s “Ace Of Spades” – but the pick of them perhaps was the gentle Try A Little Harder on which Mickey comes over very well.
Murray’s final was cut for the tiny Pepco label in the mid 70s and this disco track is now very rare. Funk fans will also be aware that he was the lead singer for the Jungle Band in the 70s.
UPDATE ~ Greg Burgess writes to say that "Murray recorded three tracks in 1988. He was guesting on a funk album by Tony Cook and The Party People."
You can read Pete Nickols' review of Murray's Federal LP - now re-relased - here.
NEW UPDATE ~ Marion Red has very kindly been in touch with a link to an article in the Augusta Chronicle which does provide some more info on this important artist. You can find it here.
As MICKEY MURRAY
Shout bamalama / Lonely room ~ SSS INT 715 (1967)
How many breaks can one heart take / Hit record ~ SSS INT 727 (1968)
Flatfoot Sam / Jodie ~ SSS INT 755 (1968)
Sticky Sue / Mama’s got the wagon ~ SSS INT 779 (1969)
Going back to Alabama / Explosive population ~ FEDERAL 12558 (1970)
People are together / Fat gal ~ FEDERAL 12560 (1971)
I can't tell you / Ain't nothing we can do about it ~ FEDERAL 12571 (1972)
Little bitty body / Pt 2 ~ PEPCO 101 (1975/6?)
Transparent pants / Pt 2 ~ EARTH QUAKE 0001 (1979)
As MICKEY & CLARENCE MURRAY
The pig & the pussycat / How do you think I can live ~ SSS INT 743 (1968)
As MICKEY MURRAY
Shout bamalama ~ SSS INT 102 (1968)
People are together ~ FEDERAL 13000 (1971)