Native New Orleanian Tony Owens stole the 2015 Ponderosa Stomp, put it in a black valise and clambered aboard a mule drawn carriage and drove south toward home.
After multiple flirtations with stardom, Owens at one point, earned his living driving one of those very carriages in the French Quarter at the turn of the 21st century.
Tony Owens was born in New Orleans in 1948
Isaac Bolden (Soulin’ Records nee Soul Sound) discovered the young man while the teen soul singer was still in high school (Walter Louis Cohen High) in the New Orleans of the 1960s.
‘I Got Soul’ was Owens first 45 coming out in 1966 on Soul Sound. That slab gained no traction but Bolden was undeterred and released Owens’ second 45 ‘Wishing, Waiting, Hoping’ two years later on Soulin’ Records.
But it wasn’t til 1970 that the young titan received big exposure when his Confessin’ A Feelin’ came out and became an instant classic. Cotillion Records liked the song so much they re-released it (1971) with the muscle of Atlantic backing them up and the cut broke into the national r&b top 40.
Could stardom be far behind?
It never happened. Cotillion declined to release Owens next song and it wasn’t til ’73 that the singer saw wax again with ‘You Got To Pay The Price’ on Listening Post Records.
Two more years pass and Owens work again sees the inside of a vinyl plant when Buddha releases ‘Don’t Want Nobody But My Baby’
Buddha soon went bankrupt.
Owens fought and scrambled to keep putting out records for the next few years and at one point started his own label: Melody World.
That concern put out its final record 25 years ago in 1990; Owens’ ‘Love Is’
At one point Owens entered the nightclub business with his own joint on North Rampart Street. I wasn’t able to find the address but I like to fantasize that it was in the current Bar Tonique room.
I saw 16 acts at Ponderosa Stomp and Tony Owens was easily the best one. Given only 20 minutes he offered a searing set that saw the old soul man pouring buckets of sweat while the crowd swooned. If you squinted your eyes just right you could’ve been in an old 7th Ward juke-joint in 1971.