Best known for his stint with The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Brantley is a premier blues piano stylist. A Milwaukee, WI native, Brantley's first group Junior and The Classics, released a major national single in the late '60's. After a short stint as Junior & the Classics, and record deals with RCA, & MagicTouch Records, Junior went to play with a very good Milwaukee based blues Band called "Short Stuff" which released 2 Albums, and a hand full of 45s."In 1993, Junior was recruited by Texas blues guitar hero Jimmy Vaughan, to join The Jimmy Vaughan Band. He appears on the 1994 Sony/Epic release Strange Pleasure.
After a period of playing piano with Leroy Airmaster, This writer notes that: Junior Brantley joined "The Fabulous Thunderbirds".
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Junior Brantley ( in his own words, 2006 )
"I was watching The Steve Allen Show, & I saw this little Wurlitzer piano for the very 1st time. It was used by Ray Charles playing "what'd I Say", and the sounds it was producing made me "flip out" with excitement. Because, at the time playing piano on stage meant that the stage had to be equipped with a piano. And there were very few stages with pianos. But this Wurlitzer was portable, and I just had to get me one. So I shoveled snow, mowed lawns, and baby-sat kids to raise the $400.00 to buy that piano. Then I bought a 45 RPM of Ray Charles's "what'd I Say" which was in the key of E, which gave me one more problem. I couldn't play in that key, but I was determined to learn, and play that song just as Ray Charles played it.
I started working on it, and before too long I had it pretty good and playing all three changes...E, A, & B. Then I learned to play a little C, F, & G and from there I went to A, D, & E, and I learned to play in the keys of D, G, & A, etc.
Then came the day that Arthur King, the guitarist for "Sonny Boy" Williamson asked to borrow my little portable piano. I was concerned about the piano player playing too hard, and breaking the reeds on my 'one & only ax". But I said yes anyway. So he picked me up, and we drove to the "Play Boys Club" on 12th and Walnut in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I set up my piano, screwed on the legs, attached the sustain peddle, and it was all ready to play. Now, where is the piano player ? Their piano player never showed up, And just as I feared....They asked me to play in his place. As nervous as I was, I said yes sir...and would you believe it ? The very first song was in the key of E. It was a good thing, that I had learned to play"what'd I Say", because every time he returned to Wisconsin to play, he hired me. After that first night I was "hooked on the blues", and started my own band when "Sonny Boy" left to go overseas on tour. I had Rosco Webb on drums, a sax man named Kent Ivy, (who played for Lloyd Price ) and the great Jimmy Dice, a jazz upright bass player. All noted, and talented musicians. ( You see, I had gigs.)
After a short stint as a band called Junior & the Classics, and record deals with RCA, & MagicTouch Records, I went to play with a very good blues Band called"Short Stuff' which released 2 Albums, and a hand full of 45s." After a period of playing piano with Leroy Airmaster, This writer notes that: Junior Brantley joined "The Fabulous Thunderbirds", and was awarded a Gold Album, and toured the world with the "Hit" recording "Tough Enough". From there he became the keyboard player for "Roomful of Blues", and appeared in two motion pictures, where they were nominated for three Grammies, and toured more of the world.
JUNIOR BRANTLEY: Key Boards,
KUNV 91.5 FM,
Junior & the
Albert Lee Band,
Jerry Lee Lewis,
3 Gold Albums,
3 Grammy Nominations,
Two Motion Pictures
Visit the Junior Brantley website