When James Milton Campbell Jr. was a kid growing up in Greenville, Mississippi, he was drawn to all kinds of music. He loved the country and western radio programs beamed out from the Grand Ol’ Opry. And he was steeped in the sounds of his Delta home: field hollers, gospel songs, the deepest blues. As he grew up, he absorbed everything he heard, and by twelve years old was a pretty good musician, playing street corners, dive bars, alleyways, wherever he could hone his craft.
All that listening and playing paid off. As a teenager he was discovered by Ike Turner, a scout for Sun Records. The kid signed a contract, and the long, wonderful career of Little Milton was launched. One of my favorite quotes from Milton goes like this: “I may have been born yesterday. But I stayed up late last night.”
Little Milton’s career spanned over three decades, recording for the era’s best record labels. And as a producer, he brought legends like Albert King and Fontella Bass into the studio. But he’s best remembered for his own tracks, the killer songs he wrote and performed. Like this one, my favorite, Grits Ain’t Groceries.