RIP: Tommy Cotton, Cotton Brothers Founder and Lead Singer

Tommy Cotton

By Bob Marovich

Cadillac James of the Cotton Family informed JGM that Tommy Cotton, founder and lead singer for the Cotton Brothers of Macon, Georgia, passed away February 9, 2017.

Tommy Cotton was born September 24, 1937, in Marshallville, Georgia, the oldest boy in a family of 16 children. The Cottons worked share and provided field labor wherever needed.

Some of the sons started an a cappella quartet group in the mid-1950s. Tommy, who was eventually named the group’s manager, was friends with fellow high school basketball team member Sylvester “Vessy” Huckaby, who served as a bodyguard for Otis Redding. Huckaby introduced the Cottons to Redding and they became fast friends.

The Cotton Brothers’ independently recorded single, “Remember Me, O Lord” (Blue Top) received so much attention in the early 1960s (including from Redding, who went on to record his own version of the song) that a local gospel announcer sent the record to Don Robey.  Robey liked what he heard and signed the group to a recording contract on his Song Bird label, a subsidiary of Peacock Records.

In 1985, the Cotton Brothers released “Another New Year,” from their indie production Having Church in Georgia. The song has become a January 1 staple on gospel radio, especially in the South and Southeast.

Read Opal Nations’ Cotton Brothers bio for more information.

Funeral arrangements for Tommy Cotton are being set for Saturday, February 18, at 1:00 pm, at the Union Baptist Church in Macon. More details to follow.  Please keep the Cotton Family in your prayers.

About Bob Marovich

Bob Marovich is a gospel music historian, author, and radio host. Founder of Journal of Gospel Music blog (formally The Black Gospel Blog) and producer of the Gospel Memories Radio Show.

One comment

  1. My name is Dorothy, I use to sing @ the cotton brother church in Macon Ga, I had my own band, I think I was 13 yrs old,The Cotton Brother do you think he could be one of the Real cotton brother I would like to know , Around 1974 alady call Mrs penniman was my Manager gospel band, would love to see footage of this year of my self singing Thanks.

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