Spectropop remembers

BARBARA GEORGE (1942 - 2006)

Barbara George - who wrote and recorded 'I Know (You Don't Love Me No More)', one of the most memorable records of the pre-Beatles era - has died in Chauvin, Louisiana. She was 63. 'I Know (You Don't Love Me No More)' is one of the songs that put New Orleans on the musical map, up there with 'Mother In Law' by Ernie K-Doe, 'Iko Iko' by the Dixie Cups and 'Tell It Like It Is' by Aaron Neville.

Born Barbara Ann Smith in 1942, she sang in church and on the streets of New Orleans, where she was discovered by the singer Jessie Hill, who had written and recorded the Mardi Gras favourite 'Ooh Poo Pah Doo'. By this time she was married, and would record under the name Barbara George. Hill took her to audition for Harold Battiste, who was setting up the A.F.O. (All For One) label with the crème de la crème of New Orleans African-American session musicians. George based 'I Know (You Don't Love Me No More)' on the traditional gospel song 'Just A Closer Walk With Thee' and Battiste wasn't too impressed at first, though he agreed to help her cut the track. George had never before set foot in a recording studio.

Originally released at the end of 1961 on A.F.O., the catchy single, featuring a cornet solo by Melvin Lastie, soon gained nationwide distribution by Sue Records. It topped the R&B charts and crossed over to the US pop listings, eventually peaking at No 3 in January 1962. 'You Talk About Love', George's follow-up single, only made the lower reaches of the Top 100 and, after releasing the first album on A.F.O., she signed directly to Juggy Murray's Sue operation, joining a roster which included Ike and Tina Turner. However, George only issued four singles on Sue - 'If You Think' and 'Send For Me (If You Need Some Lovin')', another minor hit, 'Recipe (For Perfect Fools)' and 'Something's Definitely Wrong'.

Battiste, the New Orleans arranger who had been her mentor, rued the day she had decided to join Murray's label, telling John Browen, the author of Rhythm & Blues In New Orleans: "Fatherly advice is no good when you're fighting Cadillacs, fancy clothes and money." The success of George's début 45 helped put A.F.O. on the map, but also brought problems since it was only achieved with the help of Sue. Battiste moved to California in 1963, a few months after George's defection to Sue. George subsequently issued a few more sides on Lana and Seven B in the '60s, before dropping out of music to look after her three sons. She made a brief return to recording in the '70s on the Hep Me label.

(Pierre Perrone, The Independent)

Barbara Ann Smith (Barbara George), singer and songwriter:
born August 16th, 1942 - died August 10th, 2006