Charlie Wood awarded Brass Note on Beale Street, Memphis (USA)

Daily Mail


From Elvis Presley to Justin Timberlake, some of music’s biggest ever names adorn the pavements of Beale Street.  The engraved brass notes running along the street in Memphis, Tennessee, are often called the musical equivalent of the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

And now a new name has been added – jazz pianist and singer Charlie Wood, who has just finished recording his sixth album in the UK.  Having been brought up in Memphis and having spent years playing in the city’s clubs and bars, achieving the accolade has been one of his greatest dreams.

He said: ‘I played thousands of nights on Beale Street in Memphis during my residency there.  Every night I’d walk past those brass notes inscribed with the names of my musical heroes: bluesmen like BB King, Bobby “Blue” Bland and Albert King; jazz greats like Phineas and Calvin Newborn, Jimmie Lunceford, Onzie Horne, Fred Ford and Honeymoon Garner; and R&B stars like Otis Redding and Al Green.

‘It was a humbling but very therapeutic way to prepare for the gig, thinking about all those great Memphis musicians and what I might be able to contribute.  Being awarded this honour, having a brass note with my name on it set amongst so many of the musicians I love and admire – it’s one of the highest accolades I could ever hope for.  It’s a lot to live up to, but I’ll do my best to deserve it.’

Wood was studying for a degree in English Literature, playing music as a hobby, when in 1989 he received a call from blues guitarist Albert King asking him to join his band.  In the 25 years since he has never looked back and played at a dedication ceremony for the brass note earlier this year.

Voted one of the most famous and popular boulevards in the U.S., Beale Street had its heyday in the 1920s with a glittering line of clubs, theatres and restaurants with a seedy underbelly.  Gambling, drinking, prostitution and murder were rife – not to mention the pickpockets who preyed on those enjoying the music.

The tradition of brass notes, a nod to Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, sprang up in the 1980s after the area was redeveloped and now honours more than 100 jazz greats.

Charlie Wood’s latest album New Souvenirs was released in November.

Sam Creighton
December 2014