Stan Devereaux was inducted in the Arizona Blues Hall of Fame in 2015, but he’s never topped the Billboard charts. The R&B singer is an important player in Arizona's rich music history and a talent deserving of his time in the sun.
On July 5, President Gator Records pays homage to Devereaux with Stars of the Southwest, featuring four previously unreleased songs. Devereaux and his band, The Trendsetters, recorded "Merry Go Round" and "All Over Now" at San Diego’s Quad Room in 1967, and later cut two covers of "This Diamond Ring" and "Conjure Woman" with Phoenix percussionist Steve Forman. The EP is rounded out with Devereaux’s only previous single, "Sad Tomorrows" b/w "Know That It's Happenin.'"
"His drummer had got some weird thing, and they asked if I got a set of drums," Dixon said. "I was familiar (with his music), so I said yes. A two-week engagement at the Quad Room turned into three months. I didn't come back for my junior year." The pair later became friends as Dixon moved into archival work.
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Dixon says the Arizona scene at the time was wholly unique, with "hot summers (doing) something to people’s brains," and the resulting music hummed with a twang and intensity
It was Dixon's archives that drew the attention of President Gator's owner, Jeremiah
Devereaux fondly recalls his early career, noting that Phoenix was composed mostly of musicians and friends from other small Arizona towns. Moving from Tucson to Phoenix, he says, exposed him to opportunities he might not have had otherwise. "I got to go sit in the with The Human Beinz in Hollywood," he says. "I couldn't go to Hollywood and then wanna come back to Safford."
In the late ‘60s, Devereaux took his act international, playing throughout the U.K., Spain, and Brazil as well as working with iconic acts like Sly and the Family Stone and the Doobie Brothers. In recent years, Devereaux's made regular appearances at Phoenix clubs like The Rhythm Room.
Devereaux only released the one single, common for an era marked by lackluster management and discriminatory practices, says Dixon. But as he explains it, Devereaux was happy to entertain.
"I don't have any regrets," he says. "I'm a singer and I've always been a singer. When I die, I'm gonna be a singer."
At 73, Devereaux lives in Safford with family, still playing infrequently with his band The Funky Suns. He calls performing nowadays "different," which may have just as much to do with age as an increasingly younger fan base. Either way, Devereaux is pleased with this uptick in attention, adding, "I just love singing. As long as people enjoy it, I’m there."
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"Who knows what spark of inspiration Stan's songs could lend to future musicians?"
Editor's note: This article was updated to reflect that Devereaux was inducted in the Arizona Blues Hall of Fame in 2015.
Stars of the Southwest will be released as a 10-inch vinyl on July 5 via President Gator