“white or black. rich or poor. if you ever had your heart broken you have right to sing the blues.”
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.
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
Big Mama Thornton recorded “Hound Dog” in 1952, 3 years before Elvis