MEL MCDANIEL: ReloadedEven though pop musicians usually have to wait a while before their talents are recognized, the typical country or blues artist usually has to wait even longer. In Mel McDaniel's case the experience of waiting was manifest in his many songs that dealt with the joys and problems of everyday living.
Mel was born in Checotah Oklahoma on September 6, 1942 but grew up in Okmulgee Oklahoma. He showed a youthful interest in music when he took up the trumpet in the fourth grade and then started to learn guitar soon after. In his teens he played in local bands and, by the time his high school years were through, was working as a musician in Tulsa clubs. Hemanaged to record several singles for some local labels, and then decided to try his luck in other locales, first in Ohio, then in Nashville in the late 1960's.
His primary goal in Music City was to succeed as a songwriter. He worked in a gas station to earn a living while he tried to gain the attention of music publishers and performers. That didn't work out, so his next move was to far-off Alaska, where he became a favored country performer in Anchorage. Still, he knew stardom required being based in the lower forty-eight, and he jumped at the chance to return to Nashville in 1973, where he became a fixture for nine months playing at the Holiday Inn.
The quality of his deep voice for bring out the shadings in country songs soon brought other work recording demo records for songwriters and publishers. He also formed an association with record producer Johnny MacRae, who finally got him the much sought after contract with a major label, Capitol, in 1976. One of his first recordings for that firm made the country singles charts in May 1976 and Mel was on his way. Later in the year he placed still another single on the charts, "I Thank God She Isn't Mine." This was followed by still more chart singles in 1977, "All The Sweet" early in the year and "Gentle To Your Senses (Easy on Your Mind)," a top-20 chartmaker in August.
Thus Mel had four hit singles to his credit in just over a year without being represented with an album. That was rectified in late summer of 1977 with his album debut, Gentle on Your Senses, which not only made the country hit lists but spawned two more chart songs, "Soul of a Honky Tonk Woman" and "God Made Love." McDaniel added to his growing following with in-person appearances across the country and on TV backed by his band called A Little More Country. His achievements were recognized by members of the California-based Academy of Country Music, nominated him for Most Promising Male Vocalist of 1977.
In July 1978, his second Capitol album, Mello was released. The first single from the album, "Border Town Woman," was on the charts during the summer of 1978. In 1979, Mel had such charted singles as "Love Lies" and "Lovin' Starts Where Friendship Ends." In late 1980, his single "Countryfied" showed up on the lists and rose into the top 20 in early 1981. Later in the year he had such charted singles as his first top ten single "Louisiana Saturday Night," "Right In the Palm Of Your Hand" which was remade by Alan Jackson on his "Under The Influence" compact disc and "Preaching Up A Storm"
In 1984 Mel hit his stride with the release of "Let It Roll" which included Mel's only number one single "Baby's Got Her Blue Jeans On." The title song was one of the most played videos of the year and brought Mel to the forefront of the country music world. His next album release was "Stand Up" which was a monster top-5 hit for Mel and which also became one of the most popular videos on television. With the success of these two releases the award nominations starting flying Mel's way with a 1985 nomination for Male Vocialist of the Year by the Country Music Association.Mel continued touring and releasing albums welll into the 1990's until a 1996 accident in Louisiana where Mel fell into an unmarked orchestra pit at the front of a stage nearly cost him his life. "It was totally dark and I had no way of knowing it was there." recalls Mel. "I had that big light in my eyes, and couldn't see anything. I took about three steps, and then everything exploded. I'd never been in such pain. Tore me up pretty bad. Hurt my neck, my back, my leg, my knee, my arm, my elbow..all of it. Probably, the Good Lord and my guitar breakin' my fall saved me.". Mel has had several surgeries since the accident, but he admits, "I'm as good as I'm going to get. I just do the best I can." He grins. "But I'm still here, thank God."
Mel is back on the road and performing several dates each year. Mel credits his mother, Laverna, and his companion, Peggy, for helping him through the rough times. "I don't know what I wouldn've done without them." he declares.
Check out the artist's website:
1. Baby's Got Her Blue Jeans On
3. Help Me Make It Through the Night
4. Louisiana Saturday Night
5. Horseshoes and Hand Grenades
7. I Can Live With It If You Can Live Without It
8. Shoeshine Man
9. You Really Never Loved Her Anyway
10. She Knows What to Do With a Saturday Night
11. Plastic Girl
12. Stand Up