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Red Tops main man, Rufus McKay, wows crowd!
Comments and picture by Joe Gary

The Red Tops main man, Rufus McKay, performed at Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi, on February 10, 2005.

Joe Gary writes:

Yes, seeing and hearing Rufus again was both sad and joyous.

It was sad from the standpoint that here was the very last of the Red Tops and maybe this was finally the end of an era.

So many memories flashed by. So many dances. Back in the 50's we didn't live in Greenwood or in Cleveland or in Clarksdale.

We lived in the Delta.

And where the Red Tops played, we went. We would take an extra suit and change at intermission because we were always wringing wet.

What memories. We just danced the night away. We knew everybody from everywhere.

Red Top dances were the Internet of the 50's . . .

And the occasion was joyous in that I was able to be there.

Rufus walked onstage very slowly, the movement you would expect of a 78 year old man. He seemed smaller than I had remembered. The crowd stood, applauded and many shouted his name. You could feel the love and admiration of the crowd. You could see how touched he was.

The band started playing "Sewanee River Rock" and Rufus came alive. That voice. That stage presence. What a talent.

I had tears in my eyes.

This truly was an historic occasion.


A native of Greenwood, Mississippi, Joe Gary finds himself back home after attending college at Delta State, working in the picture frame manufacturing business in Arkansas and Mississippi and in the furniture business in Virginia -- among other interesting endeavors (including supplying granite and cultured marble to the hotel industry). He has a wife, a daughter, a son-in-law, and a granddaughter. "Like Rufus," Joe says, "I'm back in Mississippi to stay!"

Write Joe at joegary@adelphia.net.

Read two more great stories at USADS about the legendary Red Tops!

Ahhh, Rufus, how we loved you! by Thomas Givens
The Red Tops of Vicksburg, Mississippi by Jim Harrison

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