Lowell Fulson

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Lowell Fulson
Lowell Fulson.jpg
Fulson in France, November 1980
Background information
Born March 31, 1921
Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States
Died March 7, 1999(1999-03-07) (aged 77)
Long Beach, California, United States
Genres Jump blues, West Coast blues
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter
Instruments Guitar
Labels Swing Time Records, Chess Records (Checker label), Kent Records, Rounder Records (Bullseye)

Lowell Fulson (March 31, 1921 – March 7, 1999)[1] was a big-voiced blues guitarist and songwriter, in the West Coast blues tradition. Fulson was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He also recorded for business reasons as Lowell Fullsom and Lowell Fulsom. After T-Bone Walker, Fulson was the most important figure in West Coast blues in the 1940s and 1950s.[2]

Career[edit]

According to some sources, Fulson was born on a Choctaw reservation in Oklahoma. Fulson stated that he was of Cherokee ancestry through his father, but he also claimed Choctaw ancestry. At the age of eighteen, he moved to Ada, Oklahoma, and joined Alger "Texas" Alexander for a few months in 1940,[1] but later moved to California, forming a band which soon included a young Ray Charles and tenor saxophone player, Stanley Turrentine. He recorded for Swing Time Records in the 1940s, Chess Records (on the Checker label) in the 1950s, Kent Records in the 1960s, and Rounder Records (Bullseye) in the 1970s.

Fulson was drafted in 1943, but left the United States Navy in 1945.[1] His most memorable and influential recordings included: "Three O'Clock Blues" (now a blues standard); the Memphis Slim-penned "Everyday I Have the Blues"; "Lonesome Christmas"; "Reconsider Baby" recorded in 1960 by Elvis Presley and in 1994 by Eric Clapton for his From the Cradle album as well as by Joe Bonamassa); and "Tramp" (co-written with Jimmy McCracklin and later covered by Otis Redding with Carla Thomas, ZZ Top (on 2003's Mescalero), Alex Chilton, and Tav Falco.

"Reconsider Baby" came from a long term contract agreed with Chess Records in 1954. It was recorded in Dallas under Stan Lewis' supervision with a saxophone section that included David "Fathead" Newman on tenor and Leroy Cooper on baritone.[1]

Jackie Brenston played in Fulson's band between 1952 and 1954.

Fulson stayed with the Checker label into 1962, when he moved to the Los Angeles-based Kent Records. 1965's "Black Nights" became his first hit in a decade, and "Tramp," did even better, restoring the guitarist to R&B stardom.[1]

In 1993 at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland, California a show entitled "California Blues - Swingtime Tribute" opened with Fulson plus Johnny Otis, Charles Brown, Jay McShann, Jimmy Witherspoon, Jimmy McCracklin and Earl Brown.[3] Fulson's last recording was a duet of "Every Day I Have the Blues" with Jimmy Rogers on the latter's 1999 Atlantic Records release, "The Jimmy Rogers All-Stars: Blues, Blues, Blues."

A resident of Los Angeles, Fulson died in Long Beach, California, in March 1999, at the age of 77. His companion Tina Mayfield stated that the causes of death were complications from kidney disease, diabetes, and congestive heart failure. He was the father of four and grandfather of thirteen.[4]

Fulson was interred in Inglewood Park Cemetery, in Inglewood, California.

Contemporary influences[edit]

In the 2004 film Ray, a biopic of Ray Charles, Fulson was portrayed by the blues musician Chris Thomas King. ZZ Top's 2003 release Mescalero included their version of "Tramp", citing Fulson's guitar prowess as an inspiration to recreate the song. Redman's 1993 single "Time 4 Sum Aksion" contains a sample from Fulson's song, "Tramp", as does "How I Could Just Kill A Man" from Cypress Hill. "Why Don't We Do It in the Road?", as performed by Fulson, appeared on the soundtrack to the 2007 crime film, American Gangster. Fulson originally covered The Beatles' song on his 1970 album, In A Heavy Bag.[5] Salt-n-Pepa recorded a contemporary version of "Tramp" in 1987, on their Hot, Cool & Vicious album. A cover of Fulson's song "Sinner's Prayer" appeared both on Eric Clapton's From the Cradle (1994) and on Ray Charles' first album Ray Charles (1957) and (with B.B. King and Billy Preston) on his final album, Genius Loves Company (2004).

Awards and recognition[edit]

Partial discography[edit]

Charting singles[6][edit]

Year Title Label Chart no.
1948 "Three O'Clock Blues" Down Town 6
1949 "Come Back Baby" Downbeat 13
1950 "Everyday I Have the Blues" Swing Time 3
"Blue Shadows" 1
"Lonesome Christmas (I & II)" 7
"Low Society Blues" 8
1951 "I'm a Night Owl (I & II)" 10
1954 "Reconsider Baby" Checker 3
1955 "Loving You" 14
1965 "Black Nights" Kent 11
1967 "Tramp" 5
"Make a Little Love" 20
"I'm a Drifter" 38
1976 "Do You Love Me" Granite 78

Selected albums[7][edit]

Year Title Label
1959 Back Home Blues Night Train
1966 Soul Kent
1967 Tramp
1969 Now
In a Heavy Bag Jewel
1970 Hung Down Head Chess
1971 Let's Go Get Stoned Kent
1973 I've Got the Blues Jewel
1975 Lowell Fulson (Early Recordings) Arhoolie
Ol' Blues Singer Granite
1976 Lowell Fulson Chess
1984 Everyday I Have the Blues Night Train
One More Blues Black & Blue
1988 San Francisco Blues Black Lion
It's a Good Day Rounder
1992 Hold On Bullseye Blues
1995 Sinner's Prayer Night Train
Them Update Blues Bullseye Blues
1996 Mean Old Lonesome Blues Night Train
1997 The Complete Chess Masters (50th Anniversary Collection) Chess
2001 I've Got the Blues (... and Then Some) (complete Jewel recordings) Westside UK
2002 The Complete Kent Recordings 1964–1968 P-Vine
2004 1946–1953, Vols. 1–4 (complete Big Town, Downbeat/Swing Time recordings) JSP

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Allmusic biography - accessed January 2008
  2. ^ Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues: From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books Limited. pp. 112–13. ISBN 1-85868-255-X. 
  3. ^ Witherspoon still serving up the blues
  4. ^ Lowell Fulson biography details @ Elvispelvis.com
  5. ^ "Lowell Fulson Albums". MP3.com. Retrieved 2007-10-10. 
  6. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1988). Top R&B Singles 1942-1988. Record Research, Inc. p. 141. ISBN 0-89820-068-7. 
  7. ^ "Lowell Fulson – Discography". allmusic. Retrieved May 2, 2010. 

External links[edit]