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Bobby Byrd

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Bobby Byrd (Robert Howard Byrd, Toccoa, Georgia, August 15, 1934 – Loganville, Georgia, September 12, 2007) was an american funk, soul, rhythm & blues, gospel singer, songwriter and record producer.

Bobby Byrd was raised in the relative security of a church going family in Toccoa, Georgia. His family were respected members of their congregation and active in supporting their community.

He was active in his local church’s gospel choir, The Zioneers and then made a local name for himself in the Gospel Starlighters. It was a time when Church elders disapproved of secular singing so Byrd and the other members of the Gospel Starlighters would leave the state to perform secular material as The Avons. Byrd provided vocals, piano and organ and led a group including: Sylvester Keels, Fred Pulliam, Doyle Onglesby, Nashpendle “Nash” Knox and Nafloyd Scott on guitar.

James Brown and The Famous Flames
In 1952 Bobby Byrd was playing baseball against the inmates of the Alto Reformatory prison team and met the music mad James Brown apparently showing off his singing to other inmates. Byrd befriended him and arranged for Byrd’s family to oversee Brown’s parole.

It began a personal and professional association that lasted until 1973 and although Byrd had twenty years plus as a solo performer it is his association with Brown for which he is chiefly remembered.

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