This is a short article and interview with Big Charles Young written for Buddy Magazine and published in December 1997.
Spotlight on Performers
Big Charles Young
by Don O.
Big Charles Young is the latest, and certainly not the last, in a long line of South Dallas blues talent to move from local stardom to international recognition. He is one of four local talents to grace a new release from Cannonball Records titled "Blues Across America-The Dallas Scene." Charles' introduction to recording came as somewhat of a surprise. After Willie Willis was hospitalized with ulcer problems, producer Ron Levy tapped Big Charles, backed by Andrew "Jr Boy" Jones, to finish out his compilation album. Problem was, no one told Charles. "I didn't know anything about it" laughed Young. "Jr Boy thought Ron had called me and Ron thought Jr Boy had called me. I just walked in the house after picking up my little boy at the babysitter's and the phone was ringing. I answered the phone and Jr Boy said 'Where are you? You're supposed to be in the studio!' I said, What? Nobody told me about that. I didn't even know where Audio Dallas Studio was." Jr Boy's wife, Shirley, took care of Big Charles' son in the studio while dad and the band laid down 4 tracks in under 3 hours. "No warm up" laughed Charles. "No chance to think about it. That was the first time I was ever in a studio but I wasn't nervous because I was playing with people I knew. That's why it came off as well as it did." Regardless of the short preparation time, the recording came off very well. Well enough that Big Charles' tracks are getting airplay in far away places like France and Australia.
Big Charles is a Dallas native. He sang some gospel in church but it took many years before he really began to explore his talent. "The first time I remember going to a blues club I was about 11 or 12 years old" remembered Young. "I went with some friends and their parents to see Willie Willis over in Grand Prairie. If my grandmother ever knew I was in a club when I was 11 I would not be here now!" While working as a door man, bouncer, and photographer at R.L. Griffin's Blues Palace, Big Charles was exposed to the cream of blues and R&B talent. Then one night with the encouragement of a friend from Tulsa, Big Charles took the stage himself. He's been onstage ever since.
Charles credits Vernon Garrett as a major influence. "One night we were playing in a club out on Westmoreland and Ledbetter and Vernon and his wife were in the audience" said Young. "He gave me his phone number and told me to call him at home. I was a little intimidated so it took me a couple of days before I called him, but when I did he told me he liked what I was doing. He told me about showmanship, how to dress, sing. It really helped me. It really helped build up my confidence, too, having someone the caliber of Vernon Garrett telling me what I was doing right and wrong. He was really inspirational to me. I owe him a lot."
You can catch Big Charles Young as part of R.L. Griffin's show and revue, Friday and Saturday at R.L. Griffin's Blues Palace.