The Spaniels' great 'Pookie' Hudson left us five years ago
10/12/2012, 4:17 p.m.
That summer, I spent a week researching in Gary, Ind., with the original group and learned Hudson wrote some 200 songs, 120 of which they recorded. I'll never forget them singing a cappella for me in Willie C. Jackson's basement rec room, as well as the hospitality of Hudson and Opal Courtney Jr., with whom I stayed. And we talked about everything.
Hudson loved to mimic novelties such as Amos Milburn's "Bad, Bad Whiskey"; "Bacon Fat" (Andre Williams); "Flat Foot Floogie (with a Floy Floy)" (Slam Stewart and Slim Gaillard); "Open the Door, Richard" (Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five); "Rag Mop" (Lionel Hampton); "Mack the Knife" (Louis Armstrong); "Long Tall Sally" (Little Richard); "Moody's Mood" (King Pleasure); and "I Don't Know" (Willie Mabon).
Over the years, Hudson and I shared many special moments. On August 9, 1991, he invited Janice and I backstage at the Apollo as the Spaniels stole the show in a "Rhythm & Blues Reunion." On April 25, 1992, at Symphony Space, I hobnobbed with Hudson and the group prior to their entry into the UGHA Hall of Fame.
On June 20, 1992, my pal George Sanders and I arranged a Spaniels "Father's Day Eve Concert" on the Marquette University campus in Milwaukee, which I emceed. That afternoon, I took Hudson and the group to my father's church for lunch. During the show, my friend John Givens gave him a proclamation from the Milwaukee County Executive. Afterwards, Givens and his wife, Rosa, hosted a reception for all of us at their home.
Then there was Nov. 11, 1994, when Hudson stayed at my home in Milwaukee before jamming with Al Jarreau in the studio for "The Carter-McGee Report" on WNOV-AM radio; March 1, 1997, when Susan and I mingled with Hudson and the group, along with some of their wives and friends, at a UGHA Spaniels' concert in New Jersey.
Incredibly, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame still has not inducted the hit-making Spaniels, despite their influences. This includes 1954's smash "Goodnight Sweetheart, Goodnight," which introduced white America to Black R&B. What a shame.
One of Hudson's last recordings was a stunning version of "At Last" in 2005-made famous by Etta James-one of his former flames. So goodnight again, Hudson, I guess it was time to go. You were a true gentleman. And that's the name of that very sad tune.