Frankie Lee (musician)

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Frankie Lee
Birth nameFrankie Lee Jones
Also known asLittle Frankie Lee
Born(1941-04-29)April 29, 1941
Mart, Texas, United States
DiedApril 24, 2015(2015-04-24) (aged 73)
Sacramento, California, United States
GenresSoul blues, electric blues[1]
Occupation(s)Singer, songwriter
Years active1960s–2015
LabelsVarious including Peacock, HighTone, Blind Pig

Frankie Lee (April 29, 1941 – April 24, 2015)[2] was an American soul blues and electric blues singer and songwriter who released six albums. His style has been compared to that of Otis Redding.[3] The New York Daily News wrote that Lee had "one of the most energetic blues voices of any time or place".[4]

Life and career[edit]

Frankie Lee Jones was born in Mart, Texas.[5] As a child, he sang gospel music in church. In 1963, he signed a recording contact with Peacock Records.[1] Billed as Little Frankie Lee, he released three singles, including "Taxi Blues", a regional hit and his best-known song.[3][6] After living with his friend Sonny Rhodes in Austin, Texas, Lee was recruited by Ike Turner to join the touring ensemble backing Ike & Tina Turner.[1] Lee later said of that time, "I'll never forget it. I dug the music and the way they performed. Tina in particular just knocked me out. It was amazing how she would go out and grab an audience—that's what I wanted to do. So I would just sit back and take notes. I learned a lot."[4] Lee then settled in Houston and worked with other musicians, including Big Mama Thornton, Ted Taylor, Junior Parker and Joe Hinton.[1]

Lee befriended Albert Collins during this period, and in 1965, they both relocated to California, with Lee singing in Collins's band from that time until 1968.[1][5] In 1971, Lee was signed to Elka Records, and his cousin, Johnny "Guitar" Watson, produced Lee's tracks. In the late 1970s, Lee's backing ensemble included the young Robert Cray.[1]

His first album, The Ladies and the Babies, was released by HighTone Records in 1984. The Allmusic journalist Thom Owens noted that "as one of the first albums on HighTone Records, the album helped set the stage for the numerous records and artists that teetered between soul and blues."[7]

Lee appeared at the Chicago Blues Festival with Sonny Rhodes, before relocating to New Jersey in 1986. He continued to perform live, gaining a growing reputation for the quality and energy of his live performances.[1] Flying Fish Records released Lee's second album, Sooner or Later (1992), on which he was backed by Doug Newby and the Bluz Blasters, with a guest appearance by Lucky Peterson.[5][4] Going Back Home (1994) was released by Blind Pig Records.[1] Lee toured widely, playing at American music festivals and in Europe and Japan.[4]

In 2004, Lee performed with Dan Treanor on the album African Wind.[5]

Lee's final album, Standing at the Crossorads, was released in 2006 by Blues Express.[5] The album was produced by Dennis Walker, who had produced The Ladies and the Babies more than twenty years earlier. Lee was nominated for the Bay Area Blues Vocalist of the Year award.[8]

Lee died on April 24, 2015, in Sacramento, California, aged 73.[2]



Year Title Record label
1984 The Ladies and the Babies HighTone
1992 Sooner or Later Flying Fish
1994 Going Back Home Blind Pig
1999 Here I Go Again Blues Express
2004 African Wind, with Dan Treanor Northern Blues
2006 Standing at the Crossroads Blues Express


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Skelly, Richard. "Frankie Lee: Biography". Retrieved 2014-01-26.
  2. ^ a b "Jones, Frankie Lee". Obituary. 2015-05-08. Retrieved 2015-05-31.
  3. ^ a b "Frankie Lee". Retrieved December 20, 2011.
  4. ^ a b c d "Frankie Lee". Retrieved December 20, 2011.
  5. ^ a b c d e "Frankie Lee". Retrieved December 20, 2011.
  6. ^ "Frankie Lee". Sir Shambling's Deep Soul Heaven. Retrieved December 20, 2011.
  7. ^ Owens, Thom. "Frankie Lee, Ladies & the Babies: Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". Retrieved 2014-01-26.
  8. ^ "Frankie Lee – Standing at the Crossroads". Retrieved December 20, 2011.
  9. ^ "Frankie Lee: Discography". 1941-04-29. Retrieved 2014-01-26.