Lowell Fulson

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Lowell Fulson
Performing in Paris in 1980
Performing in Paris in 1980
Background information
Born(1921-03-31)March 31, 1921
Atoka, Oklahoma, U.S.
DiedMarch 7, 1999(1999-03-07) (aged 77)
Long Beach, California
  • Musician
  • singer
  • songwriter
Years active1940s–1999

Lowell Fulson (March 31, 1921 – March 7, 1999)[1] was an American blues guitarist and songwriter, in the West Coast blues tradition. He also recorded for contractual reasons as Lowell Fullsom and Lowell Fulsom. After T-Bone Walker, he was the most important figure in West Coast blues in the 1940s and 1950s.[2][3]

Early life[edit]

Fulson was born on a Choctaw reservation in Atoka, Oklahoma, to Mamie and Martin Fulson. He stated that he was of Cherokee ancestry through his father but also claimed Choctaw ancestry. His father was killed when Lowell was a child, and a few years later, he moved with his mother and brothers to live in Clarita and attended school at Coalgate.[4]


At the age of eighteen, he moved to Ada, Oklahoma, and joined Alger "Texas" Alexander for a few months in 1940,[1] but later moved to California, where he formed a band which soon included a young Ray Charles and the tenor saxophone player Stanley Turrentine. Fulson was drafted in 1943 and served in the U.S. Navy until 1945.[1]

Fulson 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. He wrote "3 O'Clock Blues" (B.B. King's first hit), "Reconsider Baby" (a blues standard), and "Tramp" (co-written with Jimmy McCracklin and recorded by several artists). His 1965 song "Black Nights" was his first hit in a decade, and "Tramp" did even better, restoring him to R&B stardom.[1]

A show entitled California Blues: Swingtime Tribute opened in 1993 at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland, California, with Fulson, Johnny Otis, Charles Brown, Jay McShann, Jimmy Witherspoon, Jimmy McCracklin and Earl Brown.[5] 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.

On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Lowell Fulson among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.[6]


A resident of Los Angeles, Fulson died in Long Beach, California, on March 7, 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. Fulson was interred in Inglewood Park Cemetery, in Inglewood, California.

Awards and recognition[edit]

Partial discography[edit]

Charting singles[edit]


Year Title Label R&B

Chart no.

1948 "Three O'Clock Blues" Down Town 6
1949 "Come Back Baby" Downbeat 13
1950 "Everyday I Have the Blues" Swing Time 3
"Blue Shadows" 1
"Lonesome Christmas (I & II)" 7
"Low Society Blues" 8
1951 "I'm a Night Owl (I & II)" 10
1954 "Reconsider Baby" Checker 3
1955 "Loving You" 14
1965 "Black Nights" Kent 11
1967 "Tramp" 5
"Make a Little Love" 20
"I'm a Drifter" 38
1976 "Do You Love Me" Granite 78

Selected albums[edit]


Year Title Label
1959 Back Home Blues Night Train
1962 Lowell Fulson Arhoolie
1966 Soul Kent
1967 Tramp
1969 Now
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
1976 Lowell Fulson Chess
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

With John Lee Hooker


  1. ^ a b c d "Lowell Fulson | Biography & History". AllMusic.
  2. ^ Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues: From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books. pp. 112–13. ISBN 1-85868-255-X.
  3. ^ "Lowell Fulson obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved May 11, 2019.
  4. ^ Eagle, Bob; LeBlanc, Eric S. (2013). Blues: A Regional Experience. Santa Barbara, California: Praeger. p. 60. ISBN 978-0313344237.
  5. ^ Elwood, Philip (October 27, 1995). "Witherspoon still serving up the blues". Sfgate.com.
  6. ^ Rosen, Jody (June 25, 2019). "Here Are Hundreds More Artists Whose Tapes Were Destroyed in the UMG Fire". The New York Times. Retrieved June 28, 2019.
  7. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1988). "Lowell Fulson". Top R&B Singles 1942–1988. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research. p. 141. ISBN 0-89820-068-7.
  8. ^ "Lowell Fulson – Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved May 2, 2010.

External links[edit]