Born: Jan. 18, 1933 in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.A. When he was 15 he sang with local gospel groups like the Southern Wonders. Claude Jeter of the Swan Silvertones heard him when he opened for them and the Soul Stirrers. For a short time he was with the Swan Silvertones. He then went into the service aboard the USS Sarsfield EDD 837 in the Korean war. "After I got out of the service and joined a vocal group called The Mixers".
Vernon soon starting performing as a solo artist and as a duo with his then wife jewel. "The f irst song we recorded was "You're Going To Be Paid for the Way You Treated Me"
Vernon and Jewel released several singles for Kent throughout the 60s until Jewel died and Vernon returned as a solo artist. After Kent folded Vernon released various 45s for various labels like Modern ("I'm Guilty"), Open G ("I Had A Dream"), Venture ("Love Has Caught Me"), R & B ("Born To Love Me"),Soul Clock ("Just Ain't My Day"), Glow Hill ("Merry Christmas Baby)", APT as "Biggie Ratt" ("Escape", "We Don't Need No Music"), Kapp ("You Blew My Mind"), Grenade ("Going To My Baby's Place"), Watts ("I Learned My Lesson"), Gator ("Jody Can Ease The Pain" and others. His first LP, "Going To My Baby's Place", came out in 1975 but his first national chart hit was "I'm At The Crossroads" for ICU in 1977. In the 80s a mostly-live LP, "Crossroads" and two obscure albums for White Enterprises (1987's Somebody Done Messed Up At The Crossroad" and 1989's "If You Can't Help Me Baby" appeared before Garrett was signed to Ichiban Records for three terrific albums. The label folded and Garrett recorded a pair of albums for Leon Haywood's Evejim imprint at the beginning of the 20th decade.
"Going To My Baby's Place" (Grenade 1975)
1. Going To My Baby's Place
**** Fantastic and rare funk, soul & blues album by this throaty singer re-released on P-Vine Japan in 2003. A lost classic. Any fan of 70s funk must get a copy of this album.
"Crossroads" (California Gold 1982)
*** Mostly live set by Vernon. Contains a nearly 10 minute version of "Crossroads", plus "Jody Can Ease The Pain", "Love Vibration" & "I Love To See You Smile". The live tracks are amazing. The studio tracks are simply re-issues of a couple 60s tracks including one by Vernon & Jewel. See "Live And Well" review.
"Somebody Done Messed Up At The Crossroad" (White Enterprises 1987)
1. Somebody Messed Up
*** Contains the original version of Vernon's hit "Crossroads" which hit #33 on Billboard's R & B charts. Other cuts include "You Are My Trophy", Denise LaSalle's "Love Me Right" & "Stranger In My Bed Tonight".
"If You Can't Help Me Baby" (White Enterprises 1989)
1. If You Can't
Help Me Baby
*** Late 70s blues LP featuring some funky blues cuts like "I Can't Work And Watch You", "Johnnie Walker Red", the title cut & "Blood Of My Blood"
"Caught In A Crossfire" (Ichiban 1991)
1. Lonely, Lonely Nights
***1/2 First Ichiban CD has Garrett doing ripping versions of some of his classics: "Lonely, Lonely Nights", "Somebody Messed Up", "If You Can't Help Me Baby", "Lonely Lonely Nights" & more wonderfully produced by Gary B.B. Coleman. The version of Denise LaSalle's "Love Me Right" might be the definitive version here! Coleman and Garrett co-wrote the ripping "Bottom Line".
"Too Hip To Be Happy" (Ichiban 1994)
1. Are You The One
***1/2 Some contemporary soul funk is added to the mix with Vernon tearing it up on the Jerry Ragovoy classics "You Don't Know Nothin' About Love" & "I'm A Burglar". It's the first two cuts that make me smile- upbeat toe-tappers "Are You The One" & "Just Call On Me". There's even a strong Garrett original here "Doors Of Your Heart". On "Lil Black Woman" all women get props but he's got special love for one kind in particular.
"Half Past The Blues" (Ichiban 1997)
1. Blues In Your Town
**** High energy rollicking funk, soul & blues set highlighted by the cheeky single "Dill Pickle & Peppermint Stick". Disc starts with a good upbeat blues, "Blues In Your Town." Garrett's soulful side shows on another uptempo number, "Mixed Emotions," which hints at "I Can't Get Next To You". The Muscle Shoals Horns pack a powerful wallop on this cut. The whole band really sounds tight on the title cut, with Garrett turning in one of his better vocal performances. Unfortunately, Ichiban folded soon after it's release and ruined it's commercial hopes
"Live And Well" (California Gold 1999)
1. Crossroads (live)
*** This obscure CD contains the four smokin' live tracks from the "Crossroads" LP from 1982 plus 4 studio tracks, such as "Welfare Blues".
"Don't Look Any Further" (Evejim 2000)
1. Don't Look Any Further
*** Here Vernon does excellent versions of two Dennis Edwards hits (title track & "You're My Aphrodesiac") and four cuts co-written by Leon Haywood. Most noteworthy is "Giving My Love To The Other Man". Being that four of these songs shows up on his next (and superior) disc this release is docked half a star. Vernon fans, however, need the 6 other cuts here.
"When Something Is Wrong With My Baby" (Evejim 2002)
1. My Trial of Love
2. When Something Is Wrong With My Baby
3. Crossroads 2002
4. I'm Not Gonna Go Down
5. Don't Look Any Further
6. If You Don't Know Me by Now
7. Miss Rudolph
8. License to Steal
9. I Still Love You
10. I've Got to Get Over (To My Baby's Place)
**** It's ludicrous that such a talented singer like Vernon Garrett hasn't gotten more attention. This is well-produced soul/blues/R & B- full of gutsy singing and catchy hooks.Vernon tackles the famous title track with confidence, as he does with "If You Don't Know Me By Now". Both these songs are duets with Brenda Lee Eager. She sounded so good I searched the Net for a cd of hers and couldn't find one! A Shame I tell ya! There's an update of "Crossroads 2002", which would sound great on the radio and would be a hit in a better world. Same goes for the fabulous opener "My Trial Of Love". Soul/Blues fans of Little Milton, Z.Z. Hill, Artie "Blues Boy" White and Johnnie Taylor will dig this album
"I Made My Own Word: Kent/Modern Recordings" (Kent 2003)
1. If I Could Turn Back the Hands of Time
2. Running Out
3. You and Me Together
4. Shine It On
5. I'm Guilty
6. Going to My Baby's Place
7. I've Learned My Lesson
8. Things Are Lookin' Better
9. One Man's Loss
10. I Made My Own World
11. Slow and Easy
12. To Ba a Part of You
13. Those Lonely, Lonely Nights
14. Just to Hold My Hand
15. How About You?
16. Baby (You Got What It Takes)
17. You're So Fine
18. Does It Matter to You?
19. Since You Left Me All Alone
20. Sail On
21. In My Heart
22. Let the Good Times Roll
23. That's a Rockin' Good Way (To Mess Around and Fall in Love)
24. If I Could Turn Back the Hands of Time - (previously unreleased)
**** This disc contains all of Vernon's Kent & Modern singles plus some choice tracks from his rare 1975 Grenade album "Going To My Baby's Place". Of the 24 tracks here his best-known track is the aching "If I Could Turn Back the Hands of Time" from 1966. The version Kent uses here is an alternate take featuring a slightly different vocal. The other solo tracks are a mix of Motown-flavored pop-soul ("Slow and Easy," "You and Me Together"), nasty funk from his ("I've Learned My Lesson," "One Man's Loss"), bluesy ballads ("I Made My Own World"). The tracks with his then wife Jewel date from the mid-'60s and are slightly less successful than Garrett's solo tracks, but still fun songs like "Just to Hold My Hand" or "Let the Good Times Roll." The tracks like "You're So Fine" and the manic "In My Heart" that rock harder and let Garrett and the equally tough Jewel cut loose are much better. A handful of tracks come from a live club date from 1964.
"New Beginnings" (Video Uptown 2005)
1. Mother Bowed
**1/2 First new music in four years from R & B legend Vernon Garrett is a gospel project. He's no stranger to the art form as he sung with the gospel group Swan Silvertones in his early years. It's also no surprise that the majority of the music on this cd differs very little from the rollicking, gutbucket soul and blues he's been putting out for years. After all "soul" music was born from "church" music. One only has to go back to Ray Charles' 1952-1959 Atlantic Recordings to see what some consider the "birth of soul". Charles took the very same feverish melodies and rhythms from the church and secularized them (or "profaned" them as they used it say). Because of this fact fans of Vernon's music will have little problem accepting his "shout-outs" to God here (it's far less heavy-handed than most gospel records- and he only says "Jesus" once- not that I'd mind if it were more). Despite the lack of credits the material here appears to be all originals- (sorry no "Amazing Grace"). "New Beginnings" commences with a lovely acoustic guitar and music shakers ode to his mother's devotional life called "Mother Bowed". The song slowly builds to a spirited call-and-response between Vernon's throaty lead vocals and his own impassioned backups. "God is Knocking On Your Door" is a boogie piano number featuring friend and guitarist Frank Ace. "I've Changed My Life" is a thumping soul blues you'd expect to hear on any good modern soul/blues record albeit with tribute to the Lord rather than a fine-looking woman. "Sing For The Lord" and "Got Him In My Life" are more traditional stand-up-from-your-seat and sing along pieces, while "Got God In My Heart" is smooth contemporary R & B with some great singing from our man. Yes,Vernon can sang whatever he so pleases. So if you don't mind him substituting Him/Lord/God for the usual she/her/baby you'll enjoy this record as much as his others
"Welfare Blues" (Video Uptown 2006)
Yet another re-issue of the California Gold LP "Crossroads"
"Blues In The Kitchen" (Video Uptown 2007)
1. Barely Gettin' By
Lately there's been a small flurry of Garrett releases popping up. in 2004 Kent put out a compilation containing many of his best early recordings ("I Made My Own World"), Garrett then cut a new Gospel CD ("New Beginnings"), reissued his California Gold CD "Live & Well" (with new title "Welfare Blues") and has just now dropped a brand new set of soulful Blues called "Blues In The Kitchen". Rather than some culinary crisis the title refers to Kitchen Studios in Dallas where it was recorded. All ten cuts are credited to Blues Boy Bo and are mostly generic and Garrett's performance sounds phoned in.
The set opens with it's best foot forward on the lean, mean "Barely Gettin' By", featuring distorted guitar by Timothy White. The lyrics are self explanatory. Same goes for the Downhome "Juke Joint Blues" and familiar "My Woman And My Wife Can't Get Along". My personal favorite is "Blacker The Berry", a bumpin' Blues praising the darker skinned beauties (which may remind Garrett fans of an earlier song, "Lil' Black Woman"). Real horns would've been preferred but White's guitar and the barroom piano do the trick. "Taxman" should appeal to some (as I write it's 3 days from USA's tax deadline) and "Gotta Tell You People" is potentially divisive. Over music similar to Latimore's "Let's Straighten It Out", Garrett opines on the evils of folks on the "down low" with Soulful vocals by Susie Hardaway. Still, overall, "Kitchen" is Vernon on auto pilot.
"I'm Too Far Gone" (Video Uptown 2009)
1. Lovin' Arms
"Don't Fall In Love With Me" (Video Uptown 2011)
1. Too Late Baby