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Big Ben Atkins Joins Rock-N-Roll Heaven Band!

Big Ben Atkins Joins Rock-N-Roll Heaven Band!
Big_Ben_Atkins (2)
This past Monday evening, God called home the latest member of the Rock-n-Roll Heaven Band when regional soul-singing icon Big Ben Atkins passed to the ‘other side’. Atkins was known in the East Mississippi and West Alabama region as one of the first white soul singers and was the very first Caucasian artist signed to STAX records in Memphis. Other STAX artist at the time included music icons Otis Redding, ‘Wicked’ Wilson Pickett, Sam & Dave and Isaac Hayes.

Big Ben in the 60's

Big Ben in the 60’s

Atkins was known to his many fans as ‘Big Ben’. In the early 60’s, Atkins was heavily influenced by Vernon, Alabama neighbor and friend Dan Penn. Penn, along with Spooner Oldham, wrote a song for Atkins that became a regional hit in 1966, ‘Come On Over’ (There’s A Party Going On). It was recorded at the famous Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals. The record was selected record of the year in 1967 while being played on WTBC in Tuscaloosa (back when AM stations still ruled the roost in radio).
Around Columbus, the name Big Ben Atkins would instantly bring forth thoughts of the world famous Southernaire Club (later known as ‘The Club’) located on what is now known as ‘The Island’, just across the old river bridge in Columbus. Big Ben Atkins & The Nomads had a nearly 9 year run at the Southernaire (63′ to 71′).
Atkins’ son, Chris, has vowed to carry on his dad’s legacy (Chris Atkins sings and plays drums). Chandler Funeral Home in Vernon handled Ben’s arrangements.

    (Writers Note: A previous story written about Ben in The Columbus Packet can be found via the world-wide web at http://test.columbuspacket.com/packet/2010/12/23/big-ben-atkins-theres-a-party-going-on-come-on-over/ That story appeared in The Packet in December of 2010)
    Photos: Big Ben Atkins
    This original painting by Ben includes most of the venues of Ben’s 5-decade musical career!



1 comment

  1. Gay Wilbourne

    “My Tribute To Big Ben Atkins”

    Ben, you were an icon and an idol
    to me and to all who followed you!
    As a young teen, I had to hear the
    stories about your songs and music,
    and of course about the fights that
    broke out at the Southrnaire.

    I had a Christian upbringing and I
    was in my my forties before I got the
    opportunity to hear you and your side
    kick Don Hudson . You sang Happy
    Birthday to me! I felt so special. A
    budding relationship came between
    three of us from that night on. Many
    Waffle House breakfast followed.
    You would get one of my pork chops.
    Dearest Ben , you could have them
    both if you were just here!

    You were always soft spoken with
    that husky voice. No one could sing
    like you. I hope you are singing in
    that Heavenly Band In The Sky
    singing to us all “Come On Over”


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