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Big Mama Thornton Sings the Blues
Big Mama Thornton, One of America's Great Blues Singers Until Her Death in 1984
Big Mama Thornton
Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton was born in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1926. As was the case with many outstanding blues singers, Thorton got started singing in the Baptist church where her father was minister. She left Montgomery at 14, following her mother's death. She joined the Hot Harlem review and toured the south with the group for seven years until she settled in Houston in 1948 where she began her recording career with Peacock Records. Her recording of Hound Dog rose quickly to the top of the R&B chart and made her a star, but it earned her little money. Several years later, Elvis Presly made a hit recording of the song. She went on to record with Lightnin' Hopkins and Muddy Waters. She moved from Houston to San Francisco where she played at local blues clubs. She played at the Monerey Jazz Festival in 1966 and '68, at the San Francisco Blues Festival in 1979 and at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1980. She died in 1984 and was named to the Blues Hall of Fame that year.
Big Mama Thornton/Buddy Guy Hound Dawg in Detroit
8-24-11NYTimes--"Igniting a Revolution, Starting With 'Hound Dog'" Stephen Holden
- Jerry Leiber, Rock n Roll Hero - an Appraisal - NYTimes.com
The songwriter Jerry Leiber broke through social barriers to usher in Elvis and rock n roll. Mr. Leiber was only 20 when the original version of Hound Dog was a No. 1 R&B hit for Big Mama Thornton, in early 1953, with slightly different lyrics.
Big Mama Thornton Live in Oregon
They Call Me Big Mama
Ball and Chain--Big Mama's Last Concert
Ball & Chain
- Ball & Chain
Big Mama Thornton wrote "Ball & Chain" which later became a Janis Joplin/Big Brother hit.