Like many other Dallas-based blues musicians, Bobby Patterson is a vocalist and multi-instrumentalist who continued the soul-blues tradition of people like Bobby "Blue" Bland, Otis Redding, and Wilson Pickett. But unlike some of these other singers, Patterson has worked in all aspects of the blues record business: as a songwriter, producer, promotion man, and label owner. Patterson began performing when he was ten, playing guitar and drums. While still in his early teens, he formed a band called the Royal Rockers, who won talent contests in and around Dallas. In 1957, one of the talent contests led to a trip to California to track a single for Liberty Records, which was never released. Patterson then went on to nearby Arlington College, where one of his classmates was the son of a local record company owner. In 1962, Patterson recorded "You Just Got to Understand" for Abnak Records. The single wasn't terribly successful, but it convinced the label's owner, John Abnak, to start a soul division, called Jetstar Records. Patterson recorded for Jetstar for the next six years, becoming a talented songwriter, producer, and promotion man in the process. Patterson's regional hits, all self-penned, on the Jetstar label included "Let Them Talk" (also popularized by Little Willie John), "I'm Leroy, I'll Take Her" (with his Mustangs), "Broadway Ain't Funky No More," "T.C.B. or T.Y.A.," "My Thing Is Your Thing," "The Good Old Days," and "I'm in Love With You."
In 1969, after a string of regional hits, Abnak Records folded and Patterson recorded his own self-produced album. Shortly after that, he quit recording under his own name to produce and promote records made by other artists. As a producer, Patterson has worked with Fontella Bass, Chuck Jackson, Ted Taylor, Shay Holiday, Roscoe Robinson, the Montclairs, Tommie Young, and Little Johnny Taylor. Patterson's songs have been recorded by Albert King ("That's What the Blues Is All About") and the Fabulous Thunderbirds, who recorded and had success with his "How Do You Spell Love?" More recently, Patterson has been back on the comeback trail, recording and releasing an album, Second Coming, in 1996 on his own Dallas-based Proud Records. Second Coming is a good introduction to Patterson's music and still crystal-clear voice, but it's by no means the full story; for that, you'll have to search out his 45 rpm singles. More recently, Wilco's Jeff Tweedy sang Patterson's song "She Don't Have to See You (To See Through You)" on Golden Smog's Down by the Old Mainstream album. ~ Richard Skelly, Rovi