Benny A. Joseph, Skipper Lee Frazier, KCOH disc jockey and go-go girls, Houston, 1965 (DA.1D1B.1)
Skipper Lee Frazier
A Mountain of Soul
…When an opening became available at another radio station, KCOH, the time had come for the area to receive the “Mountain of Soul” which would become the trademark of a personality who would have an effect on the lives of millions. He began to promote shows that would propel him into the recording business in a big way.
He promoted and managed the careers of such artist and talents as: The Masters of Soul, Mark Putney, Conrad Johnson, Beau Williams (who was known then as Bobo Mr. Soul), and Sugar Bear. He also managed two more groups that brought him and the city worldwide acclaim. The groups were Archie Bell and the Drells and the TSU Tornadoes. Their big hit was very popular dance tune named “Tighten Up” of which Frazier wrote the lyrics and the Tornadoes did the music.
During his tenure at KCOH, which covered more than 22 years, he either MC’d or promoted shows for James Brown, B. B. King, Wes Montgomery, the O’Jays and the Kool Jazz Festival which was presented in cities all over the country. Success in those and other venues enabled him to open and operate the Venus Motel, another venture that was really successful, and which he stuck with until the time came for him to do something else.
Frazier was inducted into the Texas Radio Hall of Fame on October 30, 2004 in San Antonio, Texas. This is one of his greatest honors. Frazier donated all of his radio memorabilia, music and music contracts to the University of Texas Music Department. skipperlee.com
Benny A. Joseph, “Daddy Deepthroat” (Perry Cain), KCOH disc jockey at record giveaway, Houston, ca. 1960s (DA.1D1B.12)
Guitarist and singer Perry Cain was born in Waverly, TX in 1925 and was very active in the Houston blues scene during the late 1940’s and 1950’s, recording a number of singles in which pianist Buster Pickens shines throughout. During the 1960’s, Perry was a noted DJ at KCOH’s Houston. He died 24 April 1975 at his Houston home. jukegh.blogspot.com
Benny A. Joseph, Remote broadcast, Gladys “Gigi” Hill, KCOH disc jockey, Davidoff Supermarket, Houston, ca. 1960s (DA.1D1B.15)
Gladys Hill (born De Quincy) radio stations like KZEY at Tyler KYOK and KCOH at Houston under the DJ nicknames of Dizzy Lizzy, Hotsy Totsy, Zing Zang or Grandma Gee Gee. Gladys had started her musical career being the female singer of BB King’s band in 1953-54, waxing then her first titles. She also was instrumental in launching the career of many jazz and R & B Houston acts like ace guitar Johnny Copeland who backs her on some of her recordings. jukegh.blogspot.com
Benny A. Joseph, Club Matinee, Houston, 1957 (DA.1D1C.16)
Benny A. Joseph, [KCOH mobile broadcasting vehicle parked at corner, Houston], ca. 1960 (DA.1DC1.1)
Texas’s Oldest Black Radio Station Finds a New Home on FM
KCOH, which proudly calls itself Texas’s first black radio station, has completed a sometimes-bumpy migration over to FM HD radio after over six decades on the other side of the dial. The station has been broadcasting locally since 1953, first on 1430 AM and then on 1230 AM.
“We are the station that gives the community a voice. There aren’t very many stations anymore that let the listeners call in and talk to actual DJs and say what they want to say, to state their case,” Beasley says. “We want people to know they have not lost their voice. As a matter of fact, it’s been enhanced, and they can hear it clearer than ever.” By Roxanna Asgarian, houstoniamag.com
Benny A. Joseph, Travis Garner, KCOH disc jockey, Houston, ca. 1960s (DA.1D1C.24)
Benny A. Joseph, Dr. Daddio, KCOH disc jockey, Houston, 1988 (DA.1DC2.1)
Benny A. Joseph
Benny A. Joseph, Houston, Texas professional photographer, was born December 10, 1924 in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Joseph’s family moved to Houston and he was raised by his mother. He attended Yates Junior High and High School in Houston and served in the U.S. Army during the Second World War from 1943 to 1945 and was stationed in England and France.
After the war Joseph attended the Teal School of Photography in Houston from 1946 to 1947 and subsequently pursued commercial photography. From 1950 to 1953 he worked with Herbert Provost, another African American photographer, and later opened his own studio in July 1958. Primarily a portrait photographer, he maintained the same studio until July 1968 when he relocated, keeping that studio until 1982.
During his career photographing the Houston African American community, Joseph shot ordinary people as well as many noted entertainers, civic leaders, and political figures. Celebrities and leaders represented in the collection include Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Barbara Jordan, and Muhammad Ali. Much of Joseph’s music-related photography was done for the Buffalo Booking Agency, radio station KCOH-AM, and for Don Robey. In assignments for Don Robey, owner and producer of the Houston-based Duke and Peacock labels, Joseph photographed such notables as B. B. King, Junior Parker, Bobby Bland, Buddy Ace, and Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown. He also documented racial discrimination for the NAACP, as well as dances, black-owned businesses, and religious activities in the Houston area.
Benny Joseph and Hattie Calbert were married in 1953 and had four children. He is a member of Phi Beta Sigma service fraternity. Joseph’s work is explored in depth in The Early Years of Rhythm and Blues (Houston: Rice University Press, 1991). An oral history with Joseph and examples of his work appear in Portraits of Community: African American Photography in Texas (Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1996). icp.org