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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tuesday Tunes: Lightnin' Strikes

I don't know about you, but listening to the Blues actually puts me into a good mood - particularly when it is performed as skillfully as it was by the man who was born 99 years ago today: Samuel "Lightnin'" Hopkins.

Though Hopkins played with and learned from Blind Lemon Jefferson in his youth, it would not be until the mid 1940s  - after spending some time in prison and working as a farmhand - that he would even begin to have some success as a musician. The school of hard knocks was as much a part of Hopkins' blues education as anything.
It wasn't until 1946 that he received his meteorological nickname. An Aladdin Records executive decided that Sam Hopkins recording with pianist Wilson Smith lacked marketing dynamism, so he dubbed the two "lightnin'" and "thunder," respectively.
The nicknames certainly seem apropos on the suggestive 1947 recording, "Let Me Play With Your Poodle."

While Hopkins was well-known and well-respected among African-American audiences and Blues enthusiasts, he wouldn't become recognized on the wider music scene until the 1960s, which is when he recorded the song that many consider to be his masterpiece: "Mojo Hand."

Hopkins is estimated to have recorded over 800 (and as many as 1000) songs in his career, and he was named among Rolling Stone magazine's 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. Hopkins played pretty much right up until the end of his life when in 1982 he succumbed to esophageal cancer at the age of 69.
Now, I'm going to go right on ahead and break my "rule of three" to share one more video from the great Blues man.

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