Throughout the 1950s, Ruth Brown offered up a slew of hit R&B songs that boosted her career (and along with it Atlantic Records and the still relatively new genre of rhythm and blues). Her greatest hits included "I'll Wait for You," "I Know," "5-10-15 Hours," "(Mama) He Treats Your Daughter Mean," "Oh What a Dream," "Mambo Baby" and "Don't Deceive Me." In particular, "(Mama) He Treats Your Daughter Mean" and "5-10-15 Hours" achieved enormous popularity with black and white audiences alike, providing a template for much of the rock 'n' roll music that followed in their wake.Brown was involved in a terrible car crash in which she broke both her legs. Brown spent the next 11 months recovering at a hospital in Chester, Pennsylvania, during which time her supposed husband, Jimmy, left her because he thought she'd never walk again. In the end, Brown made a full recovery; in the spring of 1949 she finally recorded her first song for Atlantic, a blues ballad called "So Long" that proved an instant hit and cracked the Top 10 on the R&B charts. Her next hit single, 1950's "Teardrops From My Eyes," reached No. 1 on the R&B charts and stayed there for three months. This song also earned Brown her two most enduring nicknames. The first was "The Girl With a Tear in Her Voice," after the passionate squeal-like sound she produced when singing "Teardrops." Her most famous moniker, "Miss Rhythm," was given to her by the pop star Frankie Laine after he heard the track.
In addition to her renewed success as a performer, during the 1980s Brown waged a relentless and ultimately successful campaign to reform the music industry's royalty system. Her efforts resulted in the creation of the Rhythm and Blues Foundation in Philadelphia in 1988 to help emerging as well as aging R&B musicians. The nonprofit was financed by a settlement with Atlantic Records.before returning to New York in the early 1980'Black and Blue as well as a Grammy Award for her album Blues on Broadway.