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Coleman, Gary B. B. (1947–1994)

Cheryl L. Simon Biography Entry

Blues singer and instrumentalist Gary B. B. Coleman was born in Paris, Texas, on January 1, 1947, and grew up listening to the blues. He was inspired by such artists as T-Bone Walker, Freddie King, Slim Harpo, Albert King, and B. B. King. By age fifteen Coleman was working as a sideman for fellow Texan Freddie King. He subsequently worked with Lightnin' Hopkins and later formed his own band in which he sang and played keyboards, guitar, and bass for many years in Texas and Oklahoma. He did not begin his recording career until 1986, when he recorded his debut album, Nothin' but the Blues, on his own label, Mr. B's Records. In 1987 Coleman joined Ichiban Records as recording mainstay and producer.

He became a major promoter of blues musicians, booking blues performers into clubs throughout Texas, Oklahoma, and Colorado and producing more than thirty albums for such artists as Clarence Carter, Chick Willis, Little Johnny Taylor, Buster Benton, Travis Haddix, Blues Boy Willie, Vernon Garrett, and the Legendary Blues Band. Besides Ichiban's re-release of Nothin' but the Blues, Coleman released six albums between 1988 and 1992, including If You Can Beat Me Rockin' (1988), One Night Stand (1989), Dancin' My Blues Away (1990), Romance Without Finance Is a Nuisance ((1991), The Best of Gary B. B. Coleman (1991), and Too Much Weekend (1992). While working with Ichiban, Coleman continued to tour and play his own songs and popular blues tunes in clubs, colleges, and resort towns across the nation. He achieved national recognition just before his death on February 14, 1994, the same year that he recorded his last release, Cocaine Annie. Ichiban subsequently released two more albums, Retrospectives (1998) and American Roots: Blues (2002).

Denver Post, January 11, 1991. Michael Erlewine et al., eds., AMG All Music Guide to the Blues (San Francisco: Miller Freeman, 1996; 2d ed., San Francisco: Miller Freeman, 1999 ).


  • Music
  • Genres (Blues)
  • Peoples
  • African Americans

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Cheryl L. Simon, “Coleman, Gary B. B.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed January 28, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: