The singer by this name was born on August 8, 1935 (some sources give the year to be 1933) as Joseph Arrington, Jr. in Rogers, Bell County, Texas and went to school in McNair, just outside Baytown. His parents were Joseph Arrington and Cherrie Warren Arrington. He was a high school athlete and played in the band. As a youth, he won a talent contest and was invited to perform in New York City’s Apollo Theater. Early on, he adopted the stage name of Joe Tex.
He is likely best known as being a popular rhythm and blues recording and performing artist who had some of his greatest success in the 1960s singing and recording his own songs as well as those of others. His career was similar to that of fellow artist James Brown. The two individuals were were always near or at the top of the charts for many years. In addition to the individual rivalry, there are accounts of a personal clash between the two that became public.
In his prime, Joe Tex was a writer, recording artist and performer of tunes that would become very popular, including “Hold On To What You’ve Got,” “Skinny Legs,” “I Gotcha,” “Show Me A Man That’s Got A Good Woman,” “You Got What It Takes,” “Ain’t Gonna Bump No More” and many others mostly in the rhythm and blues genre. He had an engaging performance style and a wide number of songs that he was known for which kept him popular with fans for many years.
Joe Tex was one of the top artists of his day and any discussion of music during this period should include his name. From 1960 and extending on for almost twenty years, he had around three dozen charted hits on the United States pop and rhythm and blues charts. It was not uncommon to see his name along side other top singers of the period like Brown, Wilson Pickett, Ben E. King and Otis Redding. Redding tragically died in the crash of a private plane on December 10, 1967 and Tex served as a pallbearer at Redding’s funeral held on December 18, 1967 in Macon, Georgia.
Joe Tex was also associated with what was conceived in the mid 1960s as a soul music super group called the Soul Clan organized by Solomon Burke. At various times it included Redding, Arthur Conley, Don Covay, King, Picket and Tex but Redding died early on. The group seems to have dissolved before it made a significant impact on the music scene but they were briefly reunited in 1981 with some of the same personnel for at least one live concert.
He is usually compared and contrasted with James Brown. Their careers paralleled each other in various ways including their popularity, the genres in which they usually performed, their musical and performance styles, and the like. They were both once signed under the same record label, King Records. The conflict between the two supposedly originated in the 1950s and had several elements including mentions of their romantic involvements with the same female, cross claims of one accusing the other of copying his performance styles and/or dance moves, and the like. They sometimes made veiled references to one another in their songs. It is not difficult to find accounts of their disagreements over the years.
In latter years, he became influenced by the Nation of Islam and is said to have converted to Islam at one point. He adopted the name of Yusef (or Joseph) Hazziez, though he continued to perform under his stage name of Joe Tex. It does not appear that he ever changed his legal name. The typewritten name on his death certificate was his birth name. After his conversion to Islam, he stopped performing for a few years in the 1970s, but later resumed his career.
Eventually Arrington’s career wound down and he stopped making public performances. He continued to live in Texas and reside near Navasota, Grimes County. His father had died at the age of 37 in 1950. In 1982, Arrington died at Grimes County Hospital in Navasota at the age of 47 some three days after suffering a heart attack at his home. In some accounts, it is reported that about a week earlier, he had nearly drowned in his pool at his home. The reports continue to say that he was revived, treated at a local hospital and released. Other than this, the circumstances of the near-drowning incident seem to be unpublished. Upon his death, he was survived by his wife Deliliah, two sons and several ancestors. He is interred at Dennis Bryant Cemetery in Navasota, Grimes County, Texas.
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