born on 16/9/1926 in Chicago, IL, United States
died on 14/8/1988 in Chicago, IL, United States
Fred Below (September 16, 1926 August 14, 1988) was an American blues drummer, best known for his work with Little Walter and Chess Records in the 1950s. According to Tony Russell, Below was creator of much of the rhythmic structure of Chicago blues, especially its backbeat.
Below was born in Chicago, and started playing drums in a high school jazz band. After being conscripted into the United States Army, he joined the 427th Army band, where he played with Lester Young. After war service, he played in nightclub in Germany before returning to the United States in 1951.
Back in Chicago, Below joined a group called The Aces, comprising Junior Wells and brothers Louis and Dave Myers. Little Walter had just left Muddy Waters' band to pursue a solo career, Wells taking over Walter's role on harp in the Muddy Waters band and Walter commandeering the Aces (Myers brothers and Below). As Little Walter and the Nightcats, they became one of the top electric blues bands in Chicago.
In 1955, Below left Little Walter's live band to concentrate on working as a session musician for Chess Records. However, he continued to play on Little Walter's records, as well as hit records for Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Jimmy Rogers, Elmore James, Otis Rush, Junior Wells, Howlin' Wolf and others.
Amongst his more famous work was playing on Chuck Berry's 1957 hit single, "School Days".
Below rejoined the Myers brothers to tour Europe in 1970.
Below died from cancer on August 14, 1988 in Chicago at the age of 61.
- 1.0 1.1 [Fred Below at All Music Guide Allmusic biography]
- 2.0 2.1 2.2 Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues: From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray, p. 91, Dubai: Carlton Books Limited.
- Santelli, Robert. The Big Book of Blues, Penguin Books, page 3, (2001) - ISBN 0-14-100145-3
- Dead Rock Stars website - accessed February 2008