Papa Don McMinn - Pale Prince of Beale

Walls Man, Touched by Blues' Magic, 
Finds Music runs in Family 
By Judith Z. Marrs - Clarion Ledger - Sep 6, 1998

The Clarksdale Press Register, Nov 6, 1989.
WALLS — When Don McMinn was 5 years old, he sat on the front porch of the home of the formerly enslaved Washington Peeples in Lindon Isle, Arkansas, and listened to the blues for the first time. 

The magic of the music must have inspired McMinn. Throughout the rest of his life, he has been singing and playing the blues himself. 

"The blues is about life. It's about sadness and happy times boogie woogie. It's real," said McMinn. 

"From the age of five I had a feel for my instrument. My Uncle Robert McMinn taught me a few chords, and I went on from there," he said. 

At neighborhood gatherings, McMinn listened to the strumming of guitars and lots of singing. Music grew on him like kudzu grows in the Delta. The blues rooted itself in the heart and soul of McMinn and then it spread to his own children: Lori-na sings, Doug plays drums and Rome plays bass.

Clarksdale Press 
Register, Dec 1996.
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"My daughter, Tina, who will graduate from the University of Memphis next month, specializes in business and finance so she will help us with the business end of our profession if the big bucks ever come," he said. "Nicole is a sophomore at Horn Lake High School, but has got on-sight geography lessons when she toured with us in Europe."

When McMinn was in high school at Hutchinson, Kan., he formed his first band and traveled the carnival circuit. In 1963 he relocated to Memphis where he cut a record at Hi Records. Recording artists such as Ace Cannon and Gene Simmons contributed to his music and it was released on the M.O.C. record label. 

McMinn then went on the road with his band, The Jukes, playing bars through the 1960s.

"Then I got a real job as a welder. It was time to get off the road," he said. "It became old and boring and I was ready for a real life. I never gave up my music, though. It stays in your blood. When you're on the road so much you pray you can get yourself a clone. You love playing but you miss your family. My family is number one with me."

McMinn missed playing and after getting to know people at Stacks, he resumed his music career. In 1973 he began playing at Bad Bob's in Memphis where Jerry Lee Lewis found him.

In 1985, McMinn was playing a club, The Memphis Restaurant, in Little Rock, Ark., where Beale 
Street redeveloper John Elkington decided to eat dinner one night. Fate became reality and Elkington told McMinn to call him on Monday about an idea he had about putting a restaurant together. 

McMinn said, "I told him 'OK' but thought this was just more talk like I had heard from many others. My attitude was 'yeah right'."

McMinn went on and called on Monday and was told to meet Elkington the next day at a meeting with Preston Lamb, Cynthia Hamm, and Davis Tillman who were all part of a team for refurbishing Beale Street.

They came up with the name Rum Boogie Cafe, named after an old Three Stooges episode where they had an adventure on Rum Boogie Island — and the rest is history. 

"Since then I have played Europe again and will be going to Belgium with my sons, Doug and Rome, for the More Blues Festival in August," said McMinn.

For an interview with Papa Don McMinn,. click HERE

May the Pale Prince of Beale Street forever rest in peace!

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