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Offered here is a one of a kind piece of blues history.
From the estate of Dr. Ross A/K/A Isaiah Ross himself comes this original Union Card issued to Ross by the Memphis Federation of Musicians in 1949.
The card measures approximately 2.25 x 4" with round edges. Dr. Ross's full name, Issiah Ross, his written on the card in black felt tip marker - it is unlikely the signature of Dr. Ross, but probably written in by whoever issued him the card. It shows normal wear (considering that it was probably carried around in Dr. Ross' back pocket for a year) but is in overall good condition.
This is an exceptional relic from the history of Sun Blues, being an important personal possesion of Dr. Ross at the beginning of his career as a musician.
At the time that Dr. Ross was issued this card, he was only 24 years old and had not yet signed his first recording contract. A year later Ross would join the Army (please check our other auctions because we also have his military ID from 1950). In 1952 he would release his first single with Sam Phillip's legendary Sun Records label.
Doctor Ross famously quit Sun Records in 1958 because of his stated belief that Sam Philips was using proceeds from his recordings to promote Elvis Presley. After leaving Sun, Ross began his own record label and moved from Memphis to Flint, Michigan where he worked many years for General Motors (please check our other auctions as we will be selling some pay receipts from Dr. Ross' time at GM).
From the All Music Guide:
A triple-threat guitarist, harp blower, and vocalist, Dr. Ross decided to fire his sidemen and carry on as a one-man band, a tradition that also includes Joe Hill Louis, Daddy Stovepipe, and Jesse Fuller. Ross' music did not depend on novelty effect, yet it had a distinctly recognizable sound, in part because he learned to play his own way and essentially played everything backwards. His guitar was tuned to open G (like John Lee Hooker and other Delta artists), but Ross played it left-handed and upside-down. He also played harmonica in a rack, but it was turned around with the low notes to the right. As an instrumentalist, Ross perfected the interplay between guitar and harmonica. Unlike other Delta artists who tune in G, Ross didn't use slide, preferring a series of banjo-like strummed riffs, a percussive approach reminiscent of Atlanta 12-string guitarist Barbecue Bob. A strong vocalist and excellent songwriter, Ross gained early experience playing Delta jukes and eventually landed radio shows in Clarksdale and Memphis, where he also recorded for Sam Phillips's Sun label.
At the peak of Ross's career, he quit Sun, concerned that his royalties were being used to promote Elvis Presley's recordings. Relocating in Michigan, he recorded for his own label and for several Detroit labels, while working for General Motors. Returning to music as a recording artist, he worked the festival circuit. Ross' music retained the spirit of his live radio and juke-joint work. The sides he recorded with a band for Sun produced his best material, including classics like "Chicago Breakdown" and "Boogie Disease." As Dr. Ross put it in an interview, "I'm kind of like the little boy from the West; I'm different from the rest." Different, yes, but very good. Ross died May 28, 1993, and was buried in Flint, MI.