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Priscilla Bowman (10 May 1928 - 24 July 1988) was an American jazz and rhythm and blues singer, who had a #1 hit on the Billboard R&B charts in 1955 as lead singer with Jay McShann's band on the song "Hands Off".

She was born in Kansas City, and has been called the city's "original rock 'n' roll mama."[1] She joined the Jay McShann band in the early 1950s. In 1955 the band signed to Vee-Jay Records, and Bowman recorded two sessions with them. One of the songs, "Hands Off", became a hit, staying at number 1 on the rhythm and blues chart for three weeks in December 1955. The single was notable as the last single to hit number one on the R&B charts without making the Billboard Hot 100.[2].

She recorded three sessions for Vee-Jay and its subsidiary label Falcon as a solo singer between 1957 and 1959, but could not repeat her success.[1] However, in 1958 she was the first to record the song "A Rockin' Good Way", with uncredited vocal backing by The Spaniels.[3] The song was co-written by Brook Benton, and became a major hit when Benton recorded it himself as a duo with Dinah Washington in 1960.[4]

Bowman recorded again for Abner Records in 1959, and continued to record and make personal appearances, some with Jay McShann, through the mid 1970s. A compilation album of her recordings, An Original Rock & Roll Mama, was released in 1986.


  1. ^ a b Vee-Jay: The Early Years
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 392.  
  3. ^ JammUp #40
  4. ^ Rob Finnis and Tony Rounce, Booklet with CD "You Heard It Here First", Ace Records CDCHD1204, 2008

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