Long before Eddie Murphy, Andrew Dice Clay, or Howard Stern raised the ire of censors and threatened the delicate sensibilities of mainstream American good taste, there was Redd Foxx, arguably the most notorious "blue" comic of his day. Prior to finding fame in the 1970s as the star of the popular sitcom Sanford and Son, Foxx found little but infamy throughout the first several decades of his performing career; salty and scatological, his material broke new ground with its point-blank riffs and brazen discussions of sex and color, and although his party albums were generally banned from white-owned record stores, the comedian's funky narrative style and raspy delivery proved highly influential on comic talents of all ethnic backgrounds.
Foxx was born John Elroy Sanford in St. Louis on December 9, 1922. While still in his teens, he became a professional performer, working as both a comedian and actor on the so-called "chitlin circuit" of black theaters and nightclubs. He formulated his stage name by combining an old nickname, "Red" (given because of his ruddy complexion), with the surname of baseball's Jimmie Foxx. After cutting a handful of explicit blues records in the mid-'40s, beginning in 1951 he often teamed with fellow comic Slappy White, a partnership which lasted through 1955.