The Baby Huey Story - The Living Legend
Upon its release in 1971, Baby Huey and the Babysitters’ Living Legend must have seemed like an album without a future. Baby Huey (nee James Ramey), the 400-pound soul shouter whose resounding baritone had defined the Babysitters’ sound, had died over a year earlier. To those involved in the album's creation, Living Legend’s commercial failure must have seemed a particularly abject coda to Huey’s short and tragic life. But if Living Legend died an ignominious commercial death in 1971 it would be resurrected in a more glorious form at the close of the decade, when South Bronx DJs like Kool Herc and Grand Wizard Theodore yanked it from bargain bin obscurity and installed it in a place of pride in their revolutionary, proto-Hip-Hop DJ sets. Thanks to their efforts tracks like “Listen To Me”, “Hard Times”, and “Mighty Mighty” were granted new life as propulsive B-Boy anthems. Much of the credit for Living Legend’s eventual success should be given to Curtis Mayfield, who signed Baby Huey to his Curtom imprint at the recommendation of a young Donny Hathaway. Mayfield lent his trademark production style to Living Legend, swathing it in the same richly psychedelic textures that graced his groundbreaking debut and ensuring it would be recognized as a soul classic by future generations of listeners.