Tony Joe White
(born July 23, 1943, Oak Grove, Louisiana, United States) is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist, best known for his 1969 hit "Polk Salad Annie" and for "Rainy Night in Georgia", which he wrote but was first made popular by Brook Benton in 1970. He also wrote "Steamy Windows" and "Undercover Agent For The Blues" both big hits for Tina Turner in 1989; those two songs came by way of Tina's producer at the time, Mark Knopfler, who's a friend of Tony. "Polk Salad Annie" was also recorded by Elvis Presley and Tom Jones.1960s–1970sIn 1967, White signed with Monument Records, which operated from a recording studio in the Nashville suburb of Hendersonville, Tennessee, and produced a variety of sounds, including rock and roll, country and Western, and rhythm and blues. Billy Swan was his producer.Over the next three years, White released four singles with no commercial success stateside, although "Soul Francisco" was a hit in France. "Polk Salad Annie" had been released for nine months and written off as a failure by his record label when it finally entered the U.S. charts in July 1969. It climbed into the Top Ten by early August, eventually reaching No. 8, becoming White's biggest hit.White's first album, 1969's Black and White
, was recorded with Muscle Shoals/Nashville musicians David Briggs, Norbert Putnam, and Jerry Carrigan, and featured "Willie and Laura Mae Jones" and "Polk Salad Annie", along with covers of Jimmy Webb's "Wichita Lineman". "Willie and Laura Mae Jones" was covered by Dusty Springfield on her album "Dusty in Memphis" also recorded in 1969.Three more singles quickly followed, all minor hits, and White toured with Steppenwolf, Sly & the Family Stone, Creedence Clearwater Revival and other major rock acts of the 1970s, playing in France, Germany, Belgium, Sweden and England.In 1973, White appeared in the film Catch My Soul
, a rock-opera adaption of Shakespeare's Othello
. White played and sang four and composed seven songs for the musical.In late September 1973, White was recruited by record producer Huey Meaux to sit in on the legendary Memphis sessions that became Jerry Lee Lewis's landmark Southern Roots
album. By all accounts, these sessions were a three-day, around-the-clock party, which not only reunited the original MGs (Steve Cropper, Donald "Duck" Dunn and Al Jackson, Jr. of Booker T. and the MGs fame) for the first time in three years, but also featured Carl Perkins, Mark Lindsay (of Paul Revere & the Raiders), and Wayne Jackson plus The Memphis Horns.
Between 1976 and 1983, White released three more albums, each on a different label. Trying to combine his own swamp-rock sound with the popular disco music at the time, the results were not met with success, and White gave up his career as a singer and concentrated on writing songs.
In 1989, White produced one non single track on Tina Turner's Foreign Affair
album, the rest of the album was produced by Dan Hartman. Playing a variety of instruments on the album, he also wrote four songs, including the title song and the hit single "Steamy Windows". As a result of this he became managed by Roger Davies, who was Turner's manager at the time, and he obtained a new contract with Polydor.The resulting album, 1991's Closer to the Truth
was a commercial successand put White back in the spotlight. He released two more albums for Polydor; The Path of a Decent Groove
and Lake Placid Blues
which was co-produced by Roger Davies.In the 1990s, White toured Germany and France with Joe Cocker and Eric Clapton, and in 1992 he played the Montreux Festival.
In 2000, Hip-O Records released One Hot July
in the U.S., giving White his first new major-label domestic release in 17 years. The critically acclaimed The Beginning
appeared on Swamp Records in 2001, followed by Heroines
, featuring several duets with female vocalists including Jessi Colter, Shelby Lynne, Emmylou Harris, Lucinda Williams, and Michelle White, on Sanctuary in 2004, and a live Austin City Limits concert, Live from Austin, TX
, on New West Records in 2006. In 2004, White was the featured guest artist in an episode of the Legends Rock TV Show and Concert Series, produced by Megabien Entertainment.In 2007, White released another live recording, Take Home the Swamp
, as well as the compilation Introduction to Tony Joe White
. Singer Elkie Brooks recorded one of Whites songs "Out of The Rain" on her 2005 album " Electric Lady ". One of his more recent performances was on July 14, 2006 in Magny-Cours, France, as a warm-up act for Roger Waters' The Dark Side of the Moon
concert. White's album entitled Uncovered
was released in September 2006 and featured collaborations with Mark Knopfler, Michael McDonald, Eric Clapton, and J. J. Cale.The song "Elements and Things" from the 1969 album "...Continued
" features prominently during the horse-racing scenes in the 2012 HBO
television series "Luck".