On this day in 1984, Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton died at age 58 in Los Angeles. Thornton wrote and recorded Ball ‘n’ Chain, which was covered (as Ball and Chain) by Janis Joplin. Thornton also recorded Hound Dog, which was written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller in 1952. The Elvis hit came four years later. Above, she performs Hound Dog with Buddy Guy.
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--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H) --Indigo Girls to Queen Ida (I to Q) --Radiohead to ZZ Top (R to Z)
Here are some books to check out.
Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.
What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.
The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").
David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.
- Check It Out1
- Doo Wop5
- Girl Groups2
- More Music1
- Movie Music17
- Musical Theater3
- New Music33
- New Orleans7
- News and Commentary67
- Rhythm and Blues16