Soul Serenade: Eddie Floyd, “Big Bird”
Year four of Soul Serenade begins with an airplane trip. As the story goes, Eddie Floyd wrote “Big Bird” while he was sitting in an airport in London waiting to fly back to the US for Otis Redding’s funeral. The single failed to make a dent on the charts, but it has remained a favorite among soul aficionados, particularly in the UK.
The fact that Eddie Floyd was a Stax artist is somewhat counterintuitive given that he was brought up in Detroit. It was there that he founded a group called the Falcons, which included Mack Rice. The Falcons had a hit with “You’re So Fine,” then recruited Wilson Pickett and scored big with “I Found A Love.” When Pickett left for a solo career the Falcons broke up.
In 1965 Floyd signed with Stax and together with Steve Cropper began writing songs for his old partner Wilson Pickett, who by that time was recording for Atlantic Records, which distributed Stax releases. Jerry Wexler of Atlantic brought Pickett to Memphis to record with Booker T & the MGs. The sessions were highly successful and included two hits, “Ninety-Nine and a Half (Won’t Do),” and “634-5789,” that were co-written by Floyd.
Floyd was hardly done as a performer though. He had co-written a song called “Knock On Wood” that was intended for Otis Redding. Wexler thought that Floyd’s version was better however, and talked Stax head Jim Stewart into releasing it. It was the kind of decision that made Wexler a legend as the record became a huge smash for Floyd.
There were more hits to come for Floyd. He followed “Knock On Wood” with “Raise Your Hand” which has become well known among Bruce Springsteen fans over the years as Springsteen has covered it in concert on many occasions. Then in 1968 Floyd has another Top 40 hit with “I’ve Never Found A Girl.”
Floyd continued to be a highly sought after writer for other artists even as his own career burgeoned. He provided hits for several Stax artists including Sam & Dave (“You Don’t Know What You Mean To Me”), Otis Redding (“I Love You More Than Words Can Say”), Johnny Taylor (“Just the One (I’ve Been Looking For)”) and Rufus Thomas (“The Breakdown”) among others.
The music has never stopped for Eddie Floyd. He has been releasing albums every few years ever since the ’60s. His most recent album was released in 2008. Eddie Loves You So found Floyd back on Stax Records, which is now owned by the Concord Music Group.
“Big Bird” features Booker T Jones on organ, Al Jackson, Jr. on drums, and Donald “Duck” Dunn on bass. It’s one of those records that should have been a hit but somehow never was. The song was so highly thought of in the UK however that it was covered by the Jam for their 1982 live album Dig the New Breed.