Although he'll probably forever be known as the guy who changed the name of the New Rhythm and Blues Quintet to the New Rhythm and Blues Quartet when he left NRBQ after two albums, Steve Ferguson had a healthy solo career in the decades that followed. Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Ferguson first hooked up with pianist Terry Adams in high school, where the pair formed a group called the Merseybeats (no relation to the Liverpool group who did "I Stand Accused"). When that group broke up, Ferguson and Adams moved to Miami, where they met the remnants of a band called the Story of Us and formed NRBQ in 1967. Ferguson played on the group's self-titled debut and its collaboration with Carl Perkins, Boppin' the Blues. He left the group in 1970, replaced by Big Al Anderson. Ferguson kept to himself for the next two decades, playing occasional local gigs and sometimes collaborating with his former NRBQ bandmates. In 1991, he had his first high-profile project in over two decades, co-producing and writing much of Johnnie B. Bad, the debut solo album by Chuck Berry's piano player, Johnnie Johnson. Emboldened by the success of that project, Ferguson released his first solo record, Jack Salmon and Derby Sauce. That New Orleans-flavored album (which, amusingly, features a cover of the Liverpool Merseybeats' "I Stand Accused") featured Ferguson backed by his aptly named new group, the Midwest Creole Ensemble: guitarist Pat Lentz, keyboardist Keith Hubbard, bassist Robert Monk Mackey, and drummer Max Maxwell. After touring behind Jack Salmon and Derby Sauce, Ferguson and the Midwest Creole Ensemble made the even-better Mama-U-Seapa, a good-timey country-voodoo-jazz record with guest appearances by Adams and fellow NRBQers Joey Spampinato and Tom Ardolino. In 1999, Ferguson and the Midwest Creole Ensemble released a smoking live album, Moho Criollo: Live at Air Devils Inn. Steve Ferguson died of cancer on October 7, 2009 at his home in Louisville; he was 60 years old. ~ Stewart MasonPortions of Content Provided by Rovi Corporation.
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