Julia Lee and Her Boyfriends – “King Size Papa” (1948) – an example of “dirty blues”

“King Size Papa” is a 1948 song performed by “Julia Lee and her Boy Friends.” It was written by Johnny Gomez and Paul Vance and released on the Capitol Americana label. It reached number one on the R&B charts and number fifteen on the national pop chart.

Her Wikipedia entry contains this curious description:

Julia Lee (1902 -1958) was an American blues and dirty blues musician.  Her inclusion in the latter category is mainly due to a few numbers she performed, e.g. “King Size Papa” and “Snatch and Grab It” and “The Spinach Song”. However, it would be misleading to characterize her music as always being in this vein.

And just to follow the trail, the entry on dirty blues says this:

Dirty blues encompasses forms of blues music that deal with socially taboo subjects, including sexual acts and/or references to drug use of some kind. Due to the sometimes graphic subject matter, such music was often banned from radio and only available on a jukebox. The style was most popular in the years before World War II, although it had a revival in the 1960s.[1]

Many songs used innuendo, slang terms, or double entendres, such as Lil Johnson’s[1] “Press My Button (Ring My Bell)” (“Come on baby, let’s have some fun / Just put your hot dog in my bun”). However, some were very explicit. The most extreme examples were rarely recorded at all. Lucille Bogan’s obscene song, “Shave ‘Em Dry” (1935), being a rare example. It was noted by one music historian as “by far the most explicit blues song preserved at a commercial pre-war recording session”.

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