January 29, 2004 – Soko Richardson was born on December 8, 1939 in New Iberia, Louisiana.
Richardson began his musical career at the age of 16, when he left home to tour the South with local bands. Shortly thereafter Ike Turner, upon hearing Richardson play in Texas, hired him to play with his band, Kings of Rhythm, and then later with The Ike & Tina Turner Revue.
Richardson worked with Turner for the next ten years. In March 1971 Richardson’s arrangement of the John Fogerty song, “Proud Mary” reached number four on the pop charts, and number five on the R&B charts. The song became a signature song for Tina Turner, and won the band a Grammy for “Best R&B Vocal Performance By A Group.”
In 1971, Richardson joined John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, with whom he would tour and record for the next decade, playing with many of the diverse artists to whom Mayall gave a start.
In the mid 1980s, Richardson joined blues great Albert Collins and the Icebreakers, and became an influential member of the Chicago Blues scene. He helped earn the Icebreakers the WC Handy Award as Blues Band of The Year in 1985.
Over the years Richardson recorded with many other artists, including Pee Wee Crayton, Bobby Womack and English guitarist Terry Reid, with whom he was recording an album at the time of his death. Though limited by health problems in later years, he continued to perform and record, and sit in on jam sessions with friends. He played his last gig a few weeks before his death, at a club with Reid.
His career spanned almost fifty years, during which he performed and recorded as an influential rhythm and blues drummer, with seminal groups including John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and the The Ike & Tina Turner Revue. He is perhaps best known for his innovative arrangement of the Ike and Tina version of the Creedence Clearwater Revival song, ‘Proud Mary’.
He died from complications of diabetes on January 29, 2004 at age 64.