Big Twist and the Mellow Fellows
Larry Big Twist Nolan heartily epitomized the image 300 pounds of heavenly joy. Based in Chicago, the huge singer and his trusty R&B band, the Mellow Fellows, were one of the hottest draws on the Midwestern college circuit during the 1980s with a slickly polished sound modeled on the soul-slanted approach of Bobby Bland, Little Milton, and Tyrone Davis. Twist started out singing and playing drums in rough-and-tumble country bars in downstate Illinois during the late '50s and early '60s (chicken wire-enclosed stages were a necessity on this raucous scene). Young saxist Terry Ogolini jammed often with the big man at a joint called Junior's in a Prairie State burg called Colp. Ogolini and guitarist Pete Special spearheaded the nucleus of the first edition of the Mellow Fellows in the college town of Carbondale during the early '70s, with Twist doubling on drums. After taking southern Illinois by storm, the unit relocated en masse to Chicago in 1978. Their eponymous 1980 debut album for Flying Fish accurately captured the group's slick sound, while the 1982 follow-up, One Track Mind, attempted to be somewhat more contemporary without losing the band's blues/R&B base. A move to Alligator in 1983 elicited an album co-produced by Gene Daddy G Barge, whose sax solos previously enlivened R&B classics by Chuck Willis, Gary (U.S.) Bonds, Little Milton, and countless more. The group's final album with Twist up front was the Live From Chicago! Bigger Than Life!! Numerous personnel c...
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