Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Epilogue | Laddie Hutcherson

Rooster's 'Fat Laddie' Hutcherson rocked the bay through the '70s

ST. PETERSBURG In the early 1970s, a band led by Laddie "Fat Laddie" Hutcherson nearly tore down a hot new club call the Upper Deck — literally.

Patrons packed the dance floor. Rooster, a popular blues band led by Fat Laddie, tore through an Allman Brothers cover. The building, which stood on stilts, seemed to move.

"It was shaking so hard we were afraid the ceiling was going to collapse," said drummer Jerry Thompson.

Fat Laddie, one of the best-known local musicians in the 1970s, continued to rock the house for decades.

He played on stage with B.B. King at Tampa's Fort Homer Hesterly Armory; on a paddleboat near the Pier with Jimmy Buffett; and at Elvis' birthday party at Graceland.

Though Fat Laddie never made it big himself, he drew crowds for years at some of the Tampa Bay area's most popular nightclubs.

Mr. Hutcherson died Saturday, of lung cancer, in Cherokee Village, Ark. He was 64.

"Laddie was a black-white blues player, like Steve Cropper of Booker T & the MGs," said Vic Waters, 65, who 40 years ago played in a duo with Mr. Hutcherson. "He cut his teeth on Beale Street."

As a teenager in Memphis, Mr. Hutcherson worshiped bluesmen from the 1930s and 1940s such as Howlin' Wolf and Lightnin' Hopkins. He played his way into otherwise black bands.

In 1972, he returned to St. Petersburg. He formed Rooster, a peppy blues band that packed hot spots like the Courthouse in Clearwater and Ron's Highway Lounge on U.S. 19.

"Laddy was a great blues player and a great front man," said Randy Edwards, 62, who joined Rooster for a while "because they were the best around."

Once a radio DJ, Mr. Hutcherson's antics entertained crowds. He was known to single out couples who left the show early, saying he was sorry to see them go.

As soon as they left, though, he would tell the crowd that he "couldn't wait for them to leave."

"People who didn't know too much about music would come just to hear Laddie's between-tune patter," Thompson said.

He smoked heavily. "He had bouts of drinking, and then he would get a grip on things," said his wife, Nancy Hutcherson, 62.

The band broke up in the late 1970s. Mr. Hutcherson formed other bands and also played solo, keeping time with his foot on a wooden crate. He moved to Atlanta, then back to Memphis and Arkansas. Mr. Hutcherson returned to St. Petersburg in 2006 until his health declined.

Many of the musicians who played with Fat Laddie have died by their 60s, including five of Rooster's original nine members, said Ron "Bubba" Gregg, 62, who replaced Thompson in the band.

"With the lifestyle that musicians lived then, it's catching up with them," Gregg said.

Andrew Meacham can be reached at (727) 892-2248 or ameacham@sptimes.com.

>>Biography

Laddie Gene Hutcherson

Born: April 4, 1945.

Died: May 30, 2009.

Survivors: wife, Nancy; sisters, Ann Odom and Jayne Smith; brother, Don Hutcherson; and several nieces and nephews.

Service: to be arranged.

Rooster's 'Fat Laddie' Hutcherson rocked the bay through the '70s 06/02/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 2, 2009 9:01pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Authorities say cocaine is making comeback in Florida

    Crime

    FORT LAUDERDALE — Drug enforcement officials say traffickers are bringing more cocaine into South Florida than at any time in the past decade.

    Traffickers are bringing more cocaine into South Florida than at any time in the past decade, officials say.  [Times files]
  2. Amid escalating Russia crisis, Trump considers major staff changes

    National

    President Donald Trump and his advisers, seeking to contain the escalating Russia crisis that threatens to consume his presidency, are considering a retooling of his senior staff and the creation of a "war room" within the White House, according to several aides and outside Trump allies.

    President Donald Trump is reportedly considering a retooling of his senior staff. [Doug Mills/The New York Times]
  3. Karen Lugo, 13, from Tampa, holds up her IPad Mini to take a picture of herself while relaxing in the sand alongside her mother, Karen Castro (on left), at the North Beach area of Fort DeSoto on Memorial Day (05/27/13). Karen comes to the beach with her family for holidays, she said. Also present was her older brother and three cousins.
  4. For starters: Rays at Twins, with Cobb pitching with a purpose

    Blogs

    UPDATE, 12:34: Cash said he has been pleased with Sucre's work and is trying to find playing time for him. ... Cash also said after reading Farquhar's comments about having trouble re-focusing after getting out of a jam and then going back out for a second inning he will factor that in to how he uses him. ... …

  5. To many Americans, Memorial Day has lost its meaning

    Nation

    ANNVILLE, Pa. — Allison Jaslow heard it more than once as the long holiday weekend approached — a cheerful "Happy Memorial Day!" from oblivious well-wishers.

    Sgt. Heather Lynn Johnsen, of Roseville, Calif., guards the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Friday, March 22, 1996, in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. [Associated Press file]