Patton, “Big” John
- Scott Yanow
His mother played piano in church. Assisted at first by his mother, Patton was self-taught as a pianist from the age of thirteen.
After graduating from high school, Patton was based in Washington D.C., where he worked as a pianist. He was a member of R&B singer Lloyd Price’s band during 1954–1959, becoming his musical director and making his recording debut with Price. Patton becoming interested in playing organ by the late 1950s, permanently switched instruments and led his own organ trio starting in 1959.
Patton moved to New York in 1960. Tenor saxophonist Ike Quebec became his mentor; he gigged with guitarist Grant Green, and was a member of altoist Lou Donaldson’s group during 1962–1964. Patton became a regular on the Blue Note label (right about the time that Jimmy Smith left), leading eleven albums during 1963–1970 He also appeared as a sideman on ...
A version of this article originally appeared in African American National Biography.