Born: February 24, 1920 | Died: May 1, 1999 Primary Instrument: Sax, tenor
Eddie “Long Gone” Chamblee was one of the stalwarts of the solid Rhythm & Blues scene to come out of Chicago in the post war years, and made quite a name for himself on the record charts while gaining a reputation as a dynamic performer on the club circuit as well.
Born Edward Leon Chamblee, on 24 February 1920, in Atlanta, Georgia, he was raised in Chicago. He started on sax by age of twelve though music was Chamblee's second career choice, later deciding to study law at Roosevelt University and playing local gigs at night.
In the early 40s, during his army service, he became deeply involved in music, playing the tenor saxophone, and performing in, and sometimes directing, army bands. Upon his discharge he joined in with the Miracle Records label. This led to a big local hit of “Long Gone” (’48) which was a two part instrumental featuring his blasting tenor. The song went on to # 1 followed by “Late Freight,” which was also a big hit for him.
He became a mainstay on the Chicago scene moving on to record for the Premium, Coral and United labels, while performing continuously at nightclubs. He had another hit on the record by the Four Blazes “Mary Jo,” for United in 1952.
Chamblee joined Lionel Hampton in 1955, his tenure with Hampton lasted two years but it was long enough for him to build a reputation in Europe. Married briefly to Dinah Washington, he recorded with her, sometimes singing duets in a style similar to that which Washington adopted for her later successes with Brook Benton. He went on to record two fine sides for Emarcy circa ’58, then by the early ‘60’s he started working and recording with organ based groups, doing some recording for Roulette and Prestige.
Chamblee continued to lead small groups into the mid-70s, when he again visited Europe with both Milt Buckner and Hampton. During this same time frame he was recorded for the French Black & Blue label.
In the early 80s he switched to alto saxophone for a short stint with Count Basie, also began a lengthy association with the Harlem Blues and Jazz Band. He became at regular at Sweet Basil in the Village in New York for many years.
Eddie “Long Gone” Chamblee, one of the great Chicago sax legends, died on May, 1, 1999.