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Blues singer, guitarist, and bandleader Theodis Ealey has earned his nickname as "the Bluesman Lover." Ealey first made his name working with some of the best names in the blues, but he's also won an avid following for his ribald R&B tunes about love and lovemaking. Ealey was born in Natchez, Mississippi in 1947. One of 11 children, Ealey learned to play guitar when he was four years old, after his older brother Y.Z. Ealey gave him his first lessons. About ten years later, the brothers were playing together in a band called Y.Z. Ealey & the Merrymakers, with the younger Ealey on bass and a third brother, Melwin Ealey, also in the lineup. About a year later, Ealey traded in the bass for a guitar and joined Eugene Butler & the Rocking Royals, another group that played in the Natchez region.
Eager to see more of the world, Theodis Ealey joined the Air Force, and spent six years stationed in Hawaii. After he was discharged, Ealey spent some time in Oakland before settling down in Atlanta in the early '90s. He became a journeyman guitarist, and as his reputation grew, Ealey landed gigs backing up Little Milton, Richard "Dimples" Fields, Charles Brown, and Johnny Clyde Copeland. Now known as a first-class sideman, Ealey began stepping out as a frontman. It wasn't long before Ichiban Records took notice of Ealey's musical skills and signed him to a deal. Ealey's solo debut, Headed Back to Huntsville, was released in 1992, and three more albums would follow in the next six years. During this period, Ealey toured Europe several times. In 1994, Ealey won the Male Vocalist Top Star Award in San Francisco, and three years later he was named the Mo' Better Blues Male Artist of the Year in Atlanta.
Ealey's run with Ichiban Records came to an end when the label went out of business, and he responded by launching his own label, IFGAM Records (standing for "I Feel Good About Myself"). His first album from IFGAM was 2002's It's a Real Good Thang, and that same year Ealey was introduced to the hip-hop audience when he appeared on the album On da Grind by Ghetto Mafia. In 2004, Ealey released the album Stand Up in It, and the title track, a playfully raunchy bit of bedroom advice, became a surprise hit single, spending 21 weeks on the R&B/Hip-Hop chart and peaking at number one. Arriving in 2006, I'm the Man You Need and the collection Let Me Put the Head in It offered more double (or single) entendre blues and soul numbers as he gave his new fans just what they wanted. Ealey documented the fire of his road band and his skill as a guitarist and stage performer with the 2009 album Live. Released in 2013, You and I, Together mixed Ealey's sexy style with numbers that evoked the sound of vintage soul and classic country. ~ Linda Seida