By Bob ‘The Record Guy’ Paxon
RABBIT & GENO released “Uncertain Love”/”Why Did You Go” on Bow Records in 1958. Robert Lee Robinson (Count Rabbit) was a guitarist and Eugene (Geno) Washington was a keyboard player, though this record features them as tough R&B duet vocalists.
How they ended up on this New York City/ New Jersey label – sister label of Arrow Records – is unknown to me. They released another 45 which is much MORE mysterious. In fact it was a complete mystery to most people, including Rabbit himself! We weren’t able to track down a copy of that record for him and prove its existence until shortly before his untimely passing in 2011. More on that next week. For now …
Rabbit’s story is well-known due to his active later years in music. After returning to Buffalo in 1969, he continued playing in local clubs to the point that he became Buffalo’s Elder Statesman of the Blues, and R&B. He was inducted in the Buffalo Music hall Of Fame in 1996. His story was documented in a 1994 Buffalo Magazine article by Elmer Ploetz (‘Fade To Blues’ – still available online). Also available online is an article in American Blues News about February 18, 2011, being declared “Count Rabbit Day” in Buffalo, during Black History Month. Rabbit tragically passed away the next day, leaving behind twenty-five children and innumerable grandchildren. He had continued playing almost right up to the end. He was 78 years old,
The story of his earlier years has been told elsewhere, but here’s the short story: he was moved to Buffalo from Pittsburgh while still a child. His mother was an entertainer. At 14 he started playing guitar with on the street for tips, and it was on the sidewalk outside the Club Moonglow where he was discovered by its manager and put onstage. Playing other East Side spots like the Lucky Star and Little Harlem, he eventually met up with Geno. They formed a partnership that lasted until Geno’s death in the early 1980s, traveling, and spending six years as a popular attraction in the clubs of Rabbit’s native Pittsburgh.
Geno’s story is more obscure. Tracking down his info is complicated by the fact that he was really Eugene but sometimes Geno and sometimes Gino. And there was a more-famous Geno Washinton and a more-famous Gino Washington, both Black R&B/Soul singers: Gino from Detroit, and Geno from the UK. The latter, a former USA airman who’d been stationed in London, actually achieved great chart success as leader of the interracial Geno Washinton & The Ram Jam Band. All of which makes Google almost unusable for research for this!
Anyway they left us with just two recorded documents – four sides – and today’s is one of them, a nice rockin’ R&B tune that mixes jumping Blues with Gospel. Enjoy!