Pigmeat Markham was far better known as a comedian than a musician, but in the 1960s he cut a series of novelty records in which he delivered his rhythmic, rhyming routines over frantic backdrops of bluesy funk that not only anticipated hip-hop by at least a decade, but landed him on the pop charts in the process. Born in Durham, NC, on April 18, 1904, as either David Markham or Dewey Martin (he was known to use both, and biographical sources disagree as to his true name), he began his career as a performer in 1917 as a dancer with a traveling show whose cast included Bessie Smith. Taking his name from a song in his act called "Sweet Papa Pigmeat," in time Markham began making a mark as a comic, and appeared on the burlesque circuit alongside such future stars as Red Buttons and Milton Berle. A large man with a gravelly voice, Markham's outgoing comic style in time won him a loyal following in African-American nightspots, and he worked the so-called "chitlin circuit" for years, and appeared in a handful of independent black-cast features. After appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show, Markham was signed to Chess Records in 1964, and released several standup comedy albums.