4th annual Sidemen Reunion shows steady growth

ATLANTA—Mention names like Joe Tex, Otis Redding and Johnnie Taylor and it’s a good bet that many old-school music fans will recognize these names as soul music legends.
On Sept. 25, nearly 50 musicians and about 200 patrons took part in the 4th annual Sidemen Reunion show at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Atlanta.

The event sheds overdue light on side musicians who plied their craft with many stars who are now members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and other similar ventures.

Lee ‘LeRoy’ Hadley leads the NightShift Band during a jam session at the 4th annual Sidemen Reunion featuring ex-members of some of R&B’s hottest soul bands.

Lee “LeRoy” Hadley is the rhythm guitarist who organized the Sidemen event in 2005.

His purpose was to provide some form of gratitude for the many players who helped the “stars” shine, but never got enough credit, he said.

“I was at a Stax Reunion in 1988 performing with Johnnie Taylor when I realized this thing needed to happen. Many of us hadn’t seen each other in 40 years,” he said.

Hadley played several long-term stints with Joe Tex between 1961 and 1979. He is playfully known as the “LeRoy” subject Tex affectionately refers to in hits like “Skinny Legs And All” and “Ain’t Gone Bump No More With No Big Fat Woman.”

In the “Legs tune,” Tex offers, “Give the skinny legged girl to LeRoy. He’ll take her. Hey LeRoy!”

Other musicians who participated at the show included players like Earl “Speedo” Sims, Anthony “Tony Bone” Dorsey and Tim Sanders.

Sims worked many years as a vocalist and road manager with Otis Redding, Brick and Cameo. Dorsey played trombone with Tex and played the famous trombone solo on the Paul McCartney/Wings’ 1976 hit, “Let Em In.”

Sanders still holds a steady gig in Augusta, Ga. with PlayBack “The Band.” He previously played tenor saxophone with Percy Sledge and Wilson Pickett. Sanders said he enjoyed the reunion show.

“I recognized some of the guy’s names and met them for the first time tonight,” he said. “I plan to return next year,” he said.

Hadley’s Nightshift Band served as the core rhythm section for the show. They also play consistently at Atlanta’s nightspots and private affairs.

In addition to the Tex gig, Hadley played live gigs with Aretha Franklin, Garnett Mims, Johnnie Taylor, ZZ Hill, Candi Staton and many others. He smiles as he reflects on the times when he, his brother Clarence Hadley (bass guitar), and Tex used to shoot the breeze in Houston’s neighborhoods. The Hadleys hail from Raceland, La., 30 miles from New Orleans. “Joe was different. He never had that star attitude. Just a regular guy.”

Tex, who was born Joseph Arrington Jr., died of a massive heart attack in 1982. He was just 49.

Hadley said he envisions the reunion event gaining more attention in the form of added marketing and sponsorship strategies.

Next year’s event is scheduled for September.

(Musicians or others who may be interested in participating in, or attending next year’s event, should call 404-584-6655.)

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