The third member of the legendary Big Three Trio, Ollie Crawford was never quite as visible as either Willie Dixon or Leonard Baby Doo Caston. This was due, in part, to the fact that he was a guitarist, whereas Dixon played a huge upright bass and Caston played piano, and also to the physical realities of who they were -- by Caston's own description, Dixon tipped the scales at 330 pounds, Caston at 230, and Crawford at 130. He was born in Mobile, AL, the son of a teacher at a black college in the segregated South, and Crawford himself attended college, making him a true anomaly among the ranks of R&B and blues musicians in the South. His first instrument was the banjo, but he switched to guitar at some point in the 1930s, and by the end of that decade he had made his way to Chicago, where he met Caston, who was then mostly playing guitar. The two spent most of the World War II era working in the Rhythm Rascals Trio, and then parted company for a short time. But in 1946 Crawford was invited to join the Big Three Trio, the group that Caston had formed with Dixon -- it seemed that the original third member, Bernardo Dennis, did not get along with Dixon and had left the group. Crawford filled the slot with his fine, articulate playing and singing, and the trio worked for ten years together, until disbanding in 1956. Crawford kept working right into the 1970s and, indeed, was a member of a latter-day lineup of the Ink Spots when he succumbed to leukemia in 1973. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi
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