Fulson in France, November 1980
|Born||March 31, 1921
Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States
|Died||March 7, 1999
Long Beach, California, United States
|Genres||West Coast blues|
|Labels||Swing Time Records, Chess Records (Checker label), Kent Records, Rounder Records (Bullseye)|
Lowell Fulson (March 31, 1921 – March 7, 1999) 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.
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, 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. 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.
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.
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. 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.
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. 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
- 1993 - Blues Foundation Hall of Fame: Lowell Fulson inducted
- 1993 - Blues Foundation Hall of Fame: "Reconsider Baby" (Classics of Blues Recording - Singles or Album Tracks)
- 1993 - Blues Foundation Blues Music Award: Hold On (Traditional Album of the Year)
- 1993 - Rhythm and Blues Foundation: Pioneer Award
- 1995 - Grammy Awards: Them Update Blues (nominated for Best Traditional Blues Album of the Year)
- 1995 - Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: "Reconsider Baby" (included "500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll")
- 2010 - Blues Foundation Hall of Fame: Hung Down Head (Classics of Blues Recording - Albums)
|1948||"Three O'Clock Blues"||Down Town||6|
|1949||"Come Back Baby"||Downbeat||13|
|1950||"Everyday I Have the Blues"||Swing Time||3|
|"Lonesome Christmas (I & II)"||7|
|"Low Society Blues"||8|
|1951||"I'm a Night Owl (I & II)"||10|
|"Make a Little Love"||20|
|"I'm a Drifter"||38|
|1976||"Do You Love Me"||Granite||78|
|1959||Back Home Blues||Night Train|
|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|
|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|
- Allmusic biography - accessed January 2008
- Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues: From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books Limited. pp. 112–13. ISBN 1-85868-255-X.
- Witherspoon still serving up the blues
- Lowell Fulson biography details @ Elvispelvis.com
- "Lowell Fulson Albums". MP3.com. Retrieved 2007-10-10.
- Whitburn, Joel (1988). Top R&B Singles 1942-1988. Record Research, Inc. p. 141. ISBN 0-89820-068-7.
- "Lowell Fulson – Discography". allmusic. Retrieved May 2, 2010.