Tony Joe White was born in Oak Grove Louisiana (today: population of 1,700) on July 23, 1943. White was born into a cotton and corn farm that his family operated. He is best known for writing “Polk Salad Annie” and “A Rainy Night in Georgia” a song made popular by Brook Benton. He actually did so much more than that, not to mention he was revered by many of his contemporaries. Tony Joe’s first LP release was Black and White in 1969. Since that release there have been over 40 more, culminating in his latest “Rain Crow” in 2016.
White’s first album “Black and White”, was put together with the help of session musicians from Muscle Shoals and Nashville. I think that is a great indication of the respect and versatility that was Tony Joe. None the less White struggled getting singles to chart. His biggest hit “Polk Salad Annie” started out slow, and at one point was considered a commercial failure. In 1969 the single finally entered the charts and peaked at No. 8 in the U.S. (Billboard Hot 100). Also on the “Black and White” album was a cover of Jimmy Webb’s “Wichita Lineman”.
Certainly one of the highlights of White’s recent performing career was a live performance on the Lettermen show with the Foo Fighters (see below). After the performance Lettermen commented, referring to White, “Holy cow! … If I was this guy, you could all kiss my ass. And I mean that.”