Joseph Arrington, Jr. (August 8, 1935– August 13, 1982), better known as Joe Tex, was an American musician who gained success in the 1960s and 1970s with his brand of Southern soul, which mixed the styles of country, gospel and rhythm and blues.
Tex struggled to find hits and by the time he finally recorded his first hit, “Hold What You’ve Got”, in 1964, he had recorded thirty prior singles that were deemed failures on the charts.
Tex went on to have four million-selling hits, “Hold What You’ve Got” (1965), “Skinny Legs and All” (1967), “I Gotcha” (1972), and “Ain’t Gonna Bump No More (With No Big Fat Woman)” (1977).
After Tex’s parents divorced, his mother moved him and his sister Mary to Baytown, Texas.
In high school, Tex played baritone saxophone in his high school band and also sang for a local Pentecostal church choir.
Tex entered a number of talent shows and after an important win in Houston, the 18-year-old won $300 and a trip to New York City.
While in New York, Tex took part in the amateur portion of the Apollo Theater, winning first place four times, leading to his discovery by A&R man Henry Glover, who offered to give him a contract with King Records.
His 1967 hits included “Show Me”, which became an often-covered tune for British rock artists and later some country and pop artists, and his second million-selling hit, “Skinny Legs and All”.
The latter song, released off Tex’s pseudo live album, Live and Lively, stayed on the charts for 15 weeks and was awarded a gold disc by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in January 1968.
After leaving Atlantic for Mercury, Tex had several more R&B hits including “Buying a Book” in 1970 and “Give the Baby Anything the Baby Wants” in 1971.
The intro saxophone riffs in his 1969 song, “You’re Right, Ray Charles” later influenced Funkadelic’s “Standing on the Verge of Gettin’ It On”.
In 1963, their feud escalated when Brown and Tex performed at what was Brown’s homecoming concert at Macon, Georgia.
Tex, who opened the show, arrived in a tattered cape and began rolling around on the floor as if in agony, and screamed, “Please – somebody help get me out of this cape!” This allegedly resulted in Brown finding Tex at an after show party at a nightclub and shooting at the place with his gun.
Tex would later claim that Brown stole his dance moves and his microphone stand tricks.
In a few interviews he gave in the sixties, Tex dismissed the notion of Brown being called “Soul Brother No. 1” insisting that Little Willie John was the original “Soul Brother No. 1”.Tex even claimed Brown stopped radio disk jockeys from not playing his hit, “Skinny Legs and All”, which Tex claimed prevented Tex from taking down one of Brown’s number-one songs at the time.
During a 1968 tour, Tex had the words, “The New Soul Brother No. 1”, on his bus, leading to people heckling him.
He returned in 1975 after Elijah Muhammad died and the Nation of Islam movement gave him permission to record again; he made one bigger splash with the disco joke “Ain’t Gonna Bump No More (With No Big Fat Woman),” but his run was mostly over.
Tex retired in 1979 and died in 1982 at the age of 49, suffering a heart attack at his Texas ranch less than 100 miles from his birthplace.