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Big Mama Thornton Sings the Blues

Updated on March 27, 2014

Big Mama Thornton, One of America's Great Blues Singers Until Her Death in 1984

Big Mama Thornton--The real Deal
Big Mama Thornton--The real Deal

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

Big Mama Thornton Live in Oregon

They Call Me Big Mama

Ball and Chain--Big Mama's Last Concert


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    • James Peters profile image

      James Timothy Peters 5 years ago from Hammond, Indiana

      This was a sPECTACULAR HUB...really! I really enjoyed it. I have been getting into the 'blues' lately ever since I wrote a HUB on Gertrude "Ma" Rainey.

      You can check it out at

      I love the videos, the way you got everything set's freakin' AWESOME!

      Thumbs Up & More !

      Write On!!

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 10 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Beats me. Wikipedia says Johny Ace was playing with a loaded gun or playing Russian roulette and shot himself. We''ll probably never know the truth.

      Thanks for the comment!

    • profile image

      Johnny Ace 2 10 years ago

      I heard Johnny Ace did not kill himself it was Big Mamma

    • profile image

      Peter Fortune 10 years ago

      That was good. A little taste of the blues on a wintry morning!

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 10 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      As I said in the caption, Big Mama's the real deal. She never made it big, but she's a legend in Detroit. I think she may have influenced Janis Joplin.

    • profile image

      Iðunn 10 years ago

      this one was new to me. :)