Al Downing 1940-2005
Entertainer Big Al Downing
Passes Away July 4
Nashville, TN (July 5, 2005)
-- Big Al Downing died Monday, July 4, at approximately 6:45 p.m. with
his family at his side. The legendary country-soul entertainer, hospitalized
last week with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, was 65. He leaves behind his
wife of 27 years, Beverly; four step-sons, Michael Melanson of Hyannis,
MA; Peter Melanson of Oakam, MA; Steven Melanson of New Hampshire; Jeffrey
Melanson of Leicester, MA; son Jason Downing of Woodbridge, VA; five brothers, Donald Downing of Oxonhill, MD;
Clay, Marvin and Sylvester Downing of Coffeeville, KS, and James Downing
of Sand Springs, OK; five grandchildren, Kara Hazelton; David, Jacki, Lindsey
and Alyssa Melanson. He is pre- deceased by six brothers and two sisters.
A member of the Rockabilly
Hall of Fame, Downing began his five-decade career as the keyboard player
in Wanda Jackson's "Let's Have A Party" band. As a solo performer, he enjoyed
success as a songwriter, musician and entertainer. His songs were recorded
by Fats Domino, Bobby Blue Bland, Tom Jones and most currently, Webb Wilder.
A recipient of Billboard's New Artist of the Year and Single of the Year
in 1979, his lengthy career is a testament to his many talents. In 2003,
he released the critically-acclaimed CD, ONE OF A KIND, and was recording
tracks for an upcoming project when illness overcame him.
Al's most recent public performance
was on the Grand Ole Opry in May, where he performed one of his biggest
hits, "Mr. Jones," for an appreciative crowd. Also known for his releases,
"Down On The Farm," and "Touch Me," Downing's impact on the country genre
is far-reaching, and his music - and big heart - touched millions. "The
rewards," he once said of his career, "have been many."
Friday, July 8, 5-8 p.m.
at the J. Henri Morin & Son Funeral Home-- 23 Maple Terrace, Spencer,
MA -- (508)885-3992
Saturday, July 9, 10 a.m.
at Our Lady of the Rosary Church -- 7 Church St., Spencer, MA -- (508)885-3806
Friends and Family will
gather after the service at the Downing residence in Leicester.
Country legend ‘Big’
Al Downing dies at 65
had success in R&B, rock, disco
"Big" Al Downing, a
singer-songwriter and pianist who had success in country, rockabilly, R&B,
rock-n-roll and even disco, died Monday in Massachusetts after suffering
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - “Big”
Al Downing, a singer-songwriter and pianist who had success in country,
rockabilly, rhythm and blues, rock ’n’ roll and even disco, died Monday
after suffering from leukemia. He was 65.
Downing, of Leicester, Mass.,
was hospitalized last week and died in Massachusetts, his publicist Martha
Moore said Tuesday.
He was one of the few successful
black country artists.
Downing began his career
as a keyboard player in rockabilly singer Wanda Jackson’s band, performing
on Jackson’s biggest hit, “Let’s Have a Party.”
As a solo artist, he and
his band the Chartbusters were on the charts with two rock songs in 1964.
A soul duet with Little Esther Phillips made the charts in 1963, and a
disco record charted in 1975, according to the Country Music Association’s
Encyclopedia of Country Music.
Downing, a member of the
Rockabilly Hall of Fame, performed “Mr. Jones” on the Grand Ole Opry in
Over the years, his songs
were recorded by Fats Domino, Bobby Blue Bland, Tom Jones and Webb Wilder.
© 2005 The Associated
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