E. Rodney Jones

The power of R&B disc jockeys of the ’60s cannot be underestimated. The popularity of stations such as Chicago’s WVON, Philadelphia’s WHAT, New Orleans’ WYLD, San Francisco’s KSOL and others rivaled that of pop stations at a time when black artists were not immediate mainstream successes, as they are now. The disc jockeys, with their on-air (and on-top-of-the-record) patter and clout in “breaking” hit records, also had lots of impact in the music business as record promoters, nightclub owners, and, occasionally, as recording artists. Most 45s featuring these DJs would generally consist of instrumentals on which the DJ would do patter or recitations and are interesting artifacts of that era.

The late E. Rodney Jones may have been the most prolifcally-recorded of the great R&B DJs. “The Mad Lad,” as he was known, held forth daily in the afternoons for Chicago’s R&B powerhouse WVON, projecting an air of cool like his fellow ‘VON jock Herb Kent. Jones’ syrupy voice was featured on quite a few funky 45s for labels including Tuff (where he cut the Northern Soul classic “R&B Time”), Twinight, Westbound and Brunswick. “The Whole Thing” was the flip side to Willie Henderson’s “Loose Booty” on Brunswick. Here Jones half-sings and raps his way through a description of a soul food party, making good use of the Alka-Seltzer jingle “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing” and creating a fun funky 45 in the process.