Ernest Lawlars

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ernest Lawlars
Also known asLittle Son Joe
Born(1900-05-18)May 18, 1900
Hughes, Arkansas, United States
DiedNovember 14, 1961(1961-11-14) (aged 61)
Memphis, Tennessee, United States
Occupation(s)Guitarist, vocalist, composer
Instrument(s)Guitar, drums
Years active1930s–1950s
LabelsVocalion, Columbia

Ernest Lawlars (May 18, 1900 – November 14, 1961)[1] was an American blues guitarist, vocalist, and composer, known professionally as Little Son Joe.[2]

Early years and Memphis[edit]

Lawlars (sometimes spelled "Lawlers" or "Lawlar") was born in Hughes, Arkansas, United States. From around 1931 to 1936 he worked around Memphis with Robert Wilkins, who he accompanied on a recording session in 1935.[1] The same session also produced Lawlers's first recorded side, under the name Son Joe, although this was not issued.[3]


By 1939, Lawlars was working with, and married to, Memphis Minnie[4] in Chicago.[2] Their first recording session together, for Vocalion in February 1939, produced six released sides by Lawlers as well as four under Minnie's name.[2] Lawlars recorded in his own right under the name Little Son Joe, but most of his recorded work was as an accompanist to Minnie.[5] In 1942 he had a hit with "Black Rat Swing",[6] billed as “Mr. Memphis Minnie”.[7]

Return to Memphis[edit]

Lawlars mostly retired from music from around 1957 because of ill-health,[1] although after moving to Memphis in 1958 he and Minnie had a regular Saturday night gig at the Red Light in Millington, Tennessee,[8] and he played drums on Minnie's final recording session in 1959.[9]


Lawlars died in John Gaston Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee, in November 1961 from heart disease, and was buried in the New Hope Cemetery in Walls, Mississippi.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d Harris, S. (1981): Blues Who's Who. New York, Da Capo Press, pp. 316–7
  2. ^ a b c Garon & Garon 1992, p. 46
  3. ^ Dixon, Robert M W. Godrich, John. Rye, Howard W (1997). Blues and Gospel Records 1890–1943. Oxford: OUP, 4th ed., p. 549
  4. ^ Giles Oakley (1997). The Devil's Music. Da Capo Press. p. 183. ISBN 978-0-306-80743-5.
  5. ^ Larkin, Colin. The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music, Guinness, page 2520, (1995) – ISBN 1-56159-176-9
  6. ^ Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues: From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books Limited. p. 13. ISBN 1-85868-255-X.
  7. ^ Garon & Garon 1992, p. 48
  8. ^ Garon & Garon 1992 p. 77
  9. ^ Garon & Garon 1992 p. 78


External links[edit]