“white or black. rich or poor. if you ever had your heart broken you have right to sing the blues.”

Big Mama Thornton (circa 1950s)

bigmama_medium

Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton (December 11, 1926 – July 25, 1984) was an American rhythm and blues singer and songwriter. She was the first to record the hit song “Hound Dog” in 1952. The song was #1 on the Billboard R&B charts for seven weeks in 1953. The B-side was “They Call Me Big Mama,” and the single sold almost two million copies. Three years later, Elvis Presley recorded his version, based on a version performed by Freddie Bell and the Bellboys. In a similar occurrence, she wrote and recorded “Ball ‘n’ Chain,” which became a hit for her. Janis Joplin later recorded “Ball and Chain,” and was a huge success in the late 1960s.

wiki

Willie Mae Thornton wrote “Ball and Chain” which Big Brother changed to a minor-key blues. She applauded Janis’ version of “Ball and Chain,” saying, “That girl feels like I do.”

*from Scars of Sweet Paradise
www.janispoplin.net

Big Mama Thornton recorded “Hound Dog” in 1952, 3 years before Elvis

wiki

thanks to Steve Grosskopf

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6 thoughts on “Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton (Dec. 11, 1926 – July 25, 1984)

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