He studied piano at an early age and learned to play drums. Looking for whatever money-making opportunities he could find, he made his way to Los Angeles, as he recalls in his memoir I Paid My Dues.... Wearing a turban in Hollywood in the 1940s, he called himself Ram Singh. His networking and hustling talents landed him the job as Errol Flynn's "foreign" chauffeur.
He adopted the name Ricardo Gonzales to pass himself off as Mexican rather than black, in order to get a room in a good hotel. He tells of getting a break as a vocalist when he was asked to fill in for Mel Tormé. Singing career Gonzales worked with Charlie Barnet and Lionel Hampton's big bands before forming and leading his own group, Bab's Three Bips & a Bop (1946–49). They recorded for Blue Note, including the earliest version of "Oop-Pop-A-Da" and such songs as “Weird Lullaby” (a composition covered on Wynton Kelly's 1961 album Someday My Prince Will Come), “Real Crazy,” “Professor Bop”, “Prelude to a Nightmare”, and "Cool Whalin'". His sidemen on these dates included Tadd Dameron, Tony Scott, Roy Haynes, James Moody, J.J.
Johnson, Julius Watkins, Sonny Rollins (making his recording debut), Art Pepper, Wynton Kelly, and Don Redman. Cash Box Magazine January 29, 1955 The Alan Freed "Rock 'n Roll" Ball at St. Nicholas Arena, New York show composed of Babs Gonzales on January 14, 1955 He was an exponent and pioneer of vocalese, an example of which is his version of the Charlie Parker bop standard "Ornithology". From 1950 to 1953, Gonzales was road manager and vocalist for the James Moody band and later gigged and recorded with musicians such as Jimmy Smith, Bennie Green, Lenny Hambro, Johnny Griffin, and Bennie Green on the 1958 Blue Note album Soul Stirrin' (which took its name from and included Gonzales' eponymous composition). Spending time in Europe, Gonzales performed at Ronnie Scott's in London in 1962.
He was also a Beat poet. Books 1967: I Paid My Dues: Good Times... No Bread: A Story of Jazz. East Orange, NJ: Expubidence Publishing Corporation. 1975: Movin' On Down De Line. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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