Rufus Thomas was an American rhythm and blues, funk, soul and blues singer, songwriter, dancer, DJ and comic entertainer from Memphis, Tennessee. He recorded for several labels including Chess and Sun in the 1950s, before becoming established in the 1960s and 1970s at Stax Records.
He is best known for his novelty dance records including "Walking the Dog" (1963), "Do the Funky Chicken" (1969) and "(Do the) Push and Pull" (1970). According to the Mississippi Blues Commission, "Rufus Thomas embodied the spirit of Memphis music perhaps more than any other artist, and from the early 1940s until his death, he occupied many important roles in the local scene."
His career began as a tap dancer, vaudeville performer, and master of ceremonies in the 1930s, and he later also worked as a disc jockey on radio station WDIA in Memphis, both before and after his recordings became successful. He remained active into the 1990s, and as a performer and recording artist was often billed as "The World's Oldest Teenager". He was the father of singers Carla Thomas, with whom he recorded duets, and Vaneese Thomas, and keyboard player Marvell Thomas.