|Birth name||Ernest Joseph Thomas|
January 5, 1929|
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
|Died||January 1, 2014
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
|Genres||blues, swamp blues|
|Instruments||piano, guitar, vocals|
|Years active||before 1960s–2013|
Ernest Joseph "Tabby" Thomas, (January 5, 1929 – January 1, 2014), also known as Rockin' Tabby Thomas, was an American blues musician. He sang and played the piano and guitar, and specialized in a substyle of blues indigenous to southern Louisiana called swamp blues.
Life and career
Thomas was born and grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. After graduating he served in the U.S. Air Force, and while serving won a talent contest on KSAN radio in San Francisco in 1959. After making a few unsuccessful recordings for Hollywood Records, he returned to Baton Rouge. He recorded for several small local labels, before he became more successful with Excello Records in Crowley, for whom his records included "Hoodo Party" in 1961. He also worked in various jobs, including a time with Ciba Geigy where he was a union steward.
He became one of the best known blues musicians in Baton Rouge with his band the Mellow, Mellow Men, but briefly retired from performing in the late 1960s to set up his own record label, Blue Beat, which released his own recordings and those of other local musicians. In 1978, with other members of his family including his son Chris Thomas King, he reopened a rundown building on North Boulevard. He ran the venue as an authentic blues club, Tabby's Blues Box and Heritage Hall. The club moved in 2000 and finally closed in November 2004. Thomas also became a popular performer in the UK and Europe, where he made regular appearances.
Thomas had a serious automobile accident in 2002 and a stroke in 2004, which affected his playing but not his singing. He later hosted the radio show, Tabby's Blues Box, on Baton Rouge stations WBRH-FM and KBRH-AM. He died in the early hours of January 1, 2014.
- Du Noyer, Paul (2003). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Music (1st ed.). Fulham, London: Flame Tree Publishing. p. 181. ISBN 1-904041-96-5.
- Greater New Orleans. "Tabby Thomas, founder of Tabby's Blues Box, dies at 84". NOLA.com. Retrieved 2014-01-02.
- All-Music Guide entry for Tabby Thomas
- "Hoodo Party" label shot
- Website of Chris Thomas King
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