Booker T. Laury

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Booker T. Laury
Birth name Lawrence Laury
Born (1914-09-02)September 2, 1914
Memphis, Tennessee, United States
Died September 23, 1995(1995-09-23) (aged 81)
Memphis, Tennessee, United States
Genres Boogie-woogie, blues, gospel, jazz[1]
Occupation(s) Pianist, singer
Instruments Piano, vocals
Years active 1930s–1995

Lawrence (Booker T.) Laury (September 2, 1914 – September 23, 1995) was an American boogie-woogie, blues, gospel and jazz pianist and singer.[1] Over his lengthy career, Laury worked with various musicians, including Memphis Slim and Mose Vinson, but did not record his debut album until he was almost eighty years of age.[2] He appeared in two films.[3]


Laury was born in Memphis, Tennessee, and grew up with his lifelong friend Memphis Slim.[1] At the age of six, after helping his mother play the family's pump organ, Laury learned to play the keyboards. His barrelhouse playing style, which he developed alongside Slim, was based on the influence of the Memphis performers Roosevelt Sykes, Sunnyland Slim, and Speckled Red. In the early 1930s, and in the company of the younger Mose Vinson, Slim and Laury began playing in local clubs.[2]

In 1935, Sykes suggested to Laury and Slim that they relocated to Chicago, with a view to obtaining a recording contract. Slim took the advice, but Laury decided to remain in Memphis, where he played in gambling houses and clubs for decades. Laury had a large hand width, which enabled him to span ten keys. His playing dexterity was such that, after losing one finger on his left hand following an accident with a circular saw in the 1950s, he was still able to play well. Based around Beale Street, in Memphis, as that area started to degenerate, Laury traveled around Tennessee, Arkansas and Missouri. Despite differing fortunes, his friendship with Slim did not diminish over the years, up to Slim's death in 1988.[2]

Laury recorded his debut album in his late seventies.[2] A concert with a full band was recorded in 1980. A 1980 Paris concert was released by Indigo Records in France.[4]

In the 1989 Dennis Quaid film Great Balls of Fire!, the plot had a young Jerry Lee Lewis and Jimmy Swaggart look into a juke joint to see Laury playing "Big Legged Woman". The attention led to Laury having the opportunity to record later in his life.[2] Laury appeared in the 1992 documentary film, Deep Blues: A Musical Pilgrimage to the Crossroads.[3] In the film, Laury played "Memphis Blues" in his living room.[5]

In 1994, Bullseye Blues Records issued Nothin' but the Blues, an album of Laury's voice and piano, performing ten of his own compositions.[1] The same year, the Austrian label Wolf Records released a live album, containing concert recordings made in 1987.[6]

Laury died of cancer in September 1995 in Memphis, at the age of 81.[2][5] He has a brass note on Beale Street's Walk of Fame.[7]


Album title Record label Year of release Sign Notes
Nothing but the Blues Blue Silver 1980 BS 3006 1980 band
Live Indigo 1982 IND 9606 1980 solo[8]
Booker in Paris EPM Musique 1993 BC 157912
Nothin' but the Blues Bullseye Blues 1994 CD BB 9542 solo
Blues on the Prowl Wolf 1994 120.929 CD 2001 release titled Live


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Bush, John. "Booker T. Laury | Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-01-25. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Johnson, Greg. "Booker T. Laury". Retrieved October 27, 2010. 
  3. ^ a b "Deep Blues (1992)". Retrieved 2014-01-25. 
  4. ^ "Booker T. Laury "live"". Retrieved 2015-05-13. 
  5. ^ a b c "Booker T. Laury Discography". Retrieved 2014-01-25. 
  6. ^ "Live – Booker T. Laury | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-01-25. 
  7. ^ "Booker T. Laury". Retrieved October 27, 2010. 
  8. ^ "Laury, Booker T.: Live". catawiki. 
  9. ^ "Booker T. Laury | Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-01-25. 

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