First I would like to thank Tom Gary and the others for the Iowa Blues Hall of Fame concept, and for my nomination as an initial member.
I was born and raised in the Chicago area. I began playing the guitar in 1956 and soon after I formed a band with my friends.
We were exposed to the Blues through radio station WOPA that played the latest Blues records and did live broadcasts from the West Side clubs. We would go to the clubs and soon met Magic Sam. He would let our band sit in and through him I met most of the great Chicago Blues musicians.
In the early ‘60s, I came to Des Moines to attend Drake University. I met some other Drake students and we began playing at local clubs. We played mostly standards, Rock, and I threw some Blues into the mix. Our saxophone player, Howard Gray, mentioned he owned a Key Club on Center Street called the Sepia Club. We were playing downtown one night and on our break I asked Howard if we could go to his club. We went to the Sepia Club and I never went back that night to finish the gig!!!
I played on Center Street for two or three years. During my vacations and in the summer, I would go back to Chicago. One summer, I played with Eddy Clearwater, and the next summer I toured with Luther Allison, both friends I met through Magic Sam.
One night while playing on Center Street, bassist Ronnie McClain and keyboard player Harlan Thomas, asked if I wanted to join their band, the Soul Brothers. The band also included Gene Jackson on drums and Willis Dobbins as vocalist. We played at the Collins Club on Center Street, Vic’s on Keo Way, The Harper House, The Sports Page Lounge on Cottage Grove, and The San Francisco Club on Ingersoll. By that time, guitarist George Davis and vocalist Anita Cooper were with the group. The Soul Brothers were a very popular band and remained together for seventeen years. Unheard of in the music business!! Back then, bands usually played as housebands for four to five nights a week. We played R&B, Soul, and Blues. Outside interests, job transfers and Disco developed, and the band was dissolved in the early eighties.
In the late eighties, Harlan Thomas, George Davis and I formed the Platinum Blues Band. Joining us were Rick Mosqueda on drums, Vince Thomas on bass and Steve Clark on guitar. The Platinum Blues Band played the Blues At Two Rivers Pub, Bagg’s on University, and Wellman’s on Ingersoll. During those years I was also a special education supervisor for the Des Moines Public Schools.
I am a founding member of the Central Iowa Blues Society and assisted them with their Blues In The Schools project. I have recently retired and look forward to getting out more to listen and play with the younger Blues musicians. I am deeply appreciative of this award and recognition.
“Chicago Rick” Lussie – December 1999
PHOTO © LORI BOWLING