However it was created Hold what you've got proved to have the hit appeal Joe (and Buddy) had tried for so long. Noting its speedy rise up the charts reviewer Charles J. Schreiber described the song as "real old fashioned blues number" but with a "soft gentleness that can only appeal to wide ranges of record fans." Charles even detected a hint of the Mills Brothers in the sound.
Hold what you’ve got not only brought Joe his long awaited hit and a first royalty check of $40,000 with which he bought Grandma Mary a house, it also gave him a style. Switching easily between sermonizing and singing, personally addressing both men and women, and mixing country and gospel in the newly emerging Southern soul style, Joe had a struck a winning formula which would serve him well for the rest of the 1960’s.
Joe, now turning 30, had achieved his breakthrough and was not going to let the opportunity he had worked for so long pass him by. Wasting no time, Joe recorded enough material in December 1964 sessions to release an entirely self penned album in February 1965. This was no run of the mill 60's cash in album, Joe's compositions stretched from calypso (I'm not going to work today) C&W pastiche (Are we ready) gospel (Together we stand) to songs that echoed the late Sam Cooke who had died in November 1964. The LP was naturally named after the single that was lodged in the Pop Top 10 on the day it came out.
Before the month was over two more songs from the album (You got what it takes and You better get it) had entered the Billboard charts as a double sided single. Both songs would make the R&B Top 20, the former showing Joe could rock in an easy
When you’re hot you’re hot. Joe would place four further singles on the Billboard charts in 1965, all of them hitting the R&B Top 20. In September the rolling, word spinning I want to (do everything for you) gave Joe his first R&B No.1, followed in quick succession by his second, the tender A sweet woman like you. Charles J. Schreiber felt this one had "deep folk roots" though once again with "up-to-date appeal". Joe scored more hits than any other R&B singer in 1965. By contrast with Joe’s tally of seven smashes, arch rival James Brown scored only four - even if two (Papa’s got a brand new bag and I feel good) were all time classics.
At the top of his game on record, Joe was immediately starring on package shows across the country with other R&B greats of the day like Marvin Gaye, Wilson Pickett and the Temptations. His good looks, gymnastic stage moves and microphone tricks, not too mention his easy rapport with the audience, meant he could more then hold his own on any show. Joe was quickly recognised as a hot ticket by TV producers. Videos survive of his 1965 appearances on Shindig where he shines on performances of his hits and cover songs arranged especially for the show.
THE NEW BOSS
Joe found time for further Nashville recording sessions and by September 1965 had laid down enough material for a follow up album. The New Boss proudly proclaimed JT as the heir to Big Joe Turner, Ray Charles and Sam Cooke. Actually Joe came up short on material this time - the LP only including four new
If Joe was not already coming out with enough new product in 1965 there was a veritable flood of reissues as pre-hit recordings were hastily compiled and put on the market. Parrot had The best of Joe Tex in record stores by March 1965. Other collections of old material also featured misleading titles like Hold on! It’s Joe Tex. A particularly dodgy album was put out by Pickwick; called simply Joe Tex, it collected Joe’s two Jalynne tracks with eight tracks by other singers and passed them all off as JT himself.
A promotional trip to
Joe may or may not have written Fever but he knew how to create it on stage. (From Jet magazine, 1965)