Lafayette Leake

Lafayette Leake (June 1, 1919 – August 14, 1990) was an American blues and jazz pianist, organist, vocalist and composer who played for Chess Records as a session musician, and as a member of the Big Three Trio, during the formative years of Chicago blues. He played piano on many of Chuck Berry‘s recordings.

Leake was born in Winona, Mississippi, in 1919. Information about his early years is sparse, but in the early 1950s he joined the Big Three Trio (replacing Leonard Caston) and began his association with Chess Records, where he worked closely with bassist, producer, and songwriter Willie Dixon.

Leake played piano on One Dozen Berrys, Chuck Berry’s second album, released in 1958 by Chess. He was then on Chuck Berry Is on Top; Leake (not Berry’s longtime bandmate Johnnie Johnson) played the prominent piano on the classic original rendition of “Johnny B. Goode“, as well as “Rock and Roll Music“.Leake played on numerous other Chess sessions from the 1950s through the 1970s, backing many Chess musicians, including Sonny Boy Williamson, Otis Rush, Junior Wells, and Little Walter. Leake gave Chicago blues musician Harmonica Hinds his first harmonica lesson on the street in Toronto, Ontario.

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