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Lightnin' Hopkins

Sam Hopkins was a Texas country bluesman of the highest caliber whose career began in the 1920s and stretched all the way into the 1980s. Along the way, Hopkins watched the genre change remarkably, but he never appreciably altered his mournful Lone Star sound, which translated onto both acoustic and electric guitar. Hopkins' nimble dexterity made intricate boogie riffs seem easy, and his fascinating penchant for improvising lyrics to fit whatever situation might arise made him a beloved blues troubadour.

Hopkins' brothers John Henry and Joel were also talented bluesmen, but it was Sam who became a star. In 1920, he met the legendary Blind Lemon Jefferson at a social function, and even got a chance to play with him. Later, Hopkins served as Jefferson's guide. In his teens, Hopkins began working with another pre-war great, singer Texas Alexander, who was his cousin. A mid-'30s stretch in Houston's County Prison Farm for the young guitarist interrupted their partnership for a time, but when he was freed, Hopkins hooked back up with the older bluesman.

The pair was dishing out their lowdown brand of blues in Houston's Third Ward in 1946 when talent scout Lola Anne Cullum came across them. She had already engineered a pact with Los Angeles-based Aladdin Records for another of her charges, pianist Amos Milburn, and Cullum saw the same sort of opportunity within Hopkins' dusty country blues. Alexander wasn't part of the deal; instead, Cullum paired Hopkins with pianist Wilson "Thunder" Smith, sensibly re-christened the guitarist "Lightnin'," and presto! Hopkins was very soon an Aladdin recording artist.

"Katie May," cut on November 9, 1946, in L.A. with Smith lending a hand on the 88s, was Lightnin' Hopkins' first regional seller of note. He recorded prolifically for Aladdin in both L.A. and Houston into 1948, scoring a national R&B hit for the firm with his "Shotgun Blues." "Short Haired Woman," "Abilene," and "Big Mama Jump," among many Aladdin gems, were evocative Texas blues rooted in an earlier era.

A load of other labels recorded the wily Hopkins after that, both in a solo context and with a small rhythm section: Modern/RPM (his uncompromising "Tim Moore's Farm" was an R&B hit in 1949); Gold Star (where he hit with "T-Model Blues" that same year); Sittin' in With ("Give Me Central 209" and "Coffee Blues" were national chart entries in 1952) and its Jax subsidiary; the major labels Mercury and Decca; and, in 1954, a remarkable batch of sides for Herald where Hopkins played blistering electric guitar on a series of blasting rockers ("Lightnin's Boogie," "Lightnin's Special," and the amazing "Hopkins' Sky Hop") in front of drummer Ben Turner and bassist Donald Cooks (who must have had bleeding fingers, so torrid were some of the tempos).

But Hopkins' style was apparently too rustic and old-fashioned for the new generation of rock & roll enthusiasts (they should have checked out "Hopkins' Sky Hop"). He was back on the Houston scene by 1959, largely forgotten. Fortunately, folklorist Mack McCormick rediscovered the guitarist, who was dusted off and presented as a folk-blues artist; a role that Hopkins was born to play. Pioneering musicologist Sam Charters produced Hopkins in a solo context for Folkways Records that same year, cutting an entire LP, Lightnin' Hopkins, in Hopkins' tiny apartment (on a borrowed guitar). The results helped introduced his music to an entirely new audience.

Lightnin' Hopkins went from gigging at back-alley gin joints to starring at collegiate coffeehouses, appearing on TV programs, and touring Europe to boot. His once-flagging recording career went right through the roof, with albums for World Pacific; Vee-Jay; Bluesville; Bobby Robinson's Fire label (where he cut his classic "Mojo Hand" in 1960); Candid; Arhoolie; Prestige; Verve; and, in 1965, the first of several LPs for Stan Lewis' Shreveport-based Jewel logo.

Hopkins generally demanded full payment before he'd deign to sit down and record, and seldom indulged a producer's desire for more than one take of any song. His singular sense of country time befuddled more than a few unseasoned musicians; from the 1960s on, his solo work is usually preferable to band-backed material.

Filmmaker Les Blank captured the Texas troubadour's informal lifestyle most vividly in his acclaimed 1967 documentary, The Blues Accordin' to Lightnin' Hopkins. As one of the last great country bluesmen, Hopkins was a fascinating figure who bridged the gap between rural and urban styles. ~ Bill Dahl
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Hello Central: The Best Of Lightnin' Hopkins

3. Gotta Move

4. Broken Hearted Blues

5. Bald Headed Woman

7. Freight Train

8. Everybody's Down On Me

9. Coffee Blues

10. I'm Begging You

11. Why Did You Get Mad At Me

12. Long Way From Texas

13. Worried Blues

14. Happy New Year

15. Down To The River

16. You Do Too (I'll Never Forget The Day)

17. Tap Dance Boogie

18. New Short Haired Woman

19. Tell Me Boogie (Mad As I Can Be)

20. My Heart To Weep

x

Track List: Live At Newport

1. Introduction By Michael Bloomfield (Live)

2. Where Can I Find My Baby? (Live)

3. Baby Please Don't Go (Live)

4. Mojo Hand (Live)

5. Trouble In Mind (Live)

6. The Woman I'm Loving, She's Taken My Appetite (Live)

7. Come On Baby (Live)

8. Cotton Patch Blues (Live)

9. Instrumental (Live)

10. Jealous Of My Wife (Live)

11. Every Day About This Time (Live)

12. Shake That Thing (Live)

x

Track List: The Very Best Of Lightnin' Hopkins

1. Katie Mae Blues

2. Shotgun Blues

3. Baby PLease Don't Go

4. Automobile

5. Give Me Central 209 (Hello Central)

6. Coffee Blues

7. I'm Beggin' You

8. Contrary Mary

9. Moanin' Blues

10. Penitentiary Blues

11. Fan It

12. Conversation Blues

13. Last Night Blues

14. Mighty Crazy

15. Mojo Hand

16. Baby Don't You Tear My Clothes

x

Track List: Lightnin' Hopkins B.O.B. (1947 - 1969)

1. Short Haired Woman

2. Can't Get That Woman Off My Mind

3. Lightning Blues

7. Henny Penny Blues

8. Jazz Blues

10. Don't Keep My Baby Long

11. Jake Head (Boogie)

14. Santa Fe (Blues)

15. New York Boogie

16. Late In The Evening

18. Mussy Haired Woman

20. Baby

21. I Hear You Calling

22. Rock Me Baby

23. Back Door Friend

24. Trouble In Mind

25. What'd I Say

x

Track List: The Herald Recordings - 1954

1. Hear Me Talkin'

2. Nothin' But The Blues

3. Don't Think 'cause You're Pretty

4. Lightnin's Boogie

5. Life I Used To Live

6. Hopkins' Sky Hop

7. Sick Feelin' Blues

8. Evil Hearted Woman

9. My Little Kewpie Doll

10. Blues For My Cookie

11. Sittin' Down Thinkin'

12. Lightnin's Stomp

13. Lightnin' Don't Feel Well

14. My Baby's Gone

15. Lonesome In Your Home

16. Flash Lightnin'

17. Shine On Moon

x

Track List: Mojo Hand: The Lightnin' Hopkins Anthology

Disc 1

1. Blues Is A Feeling

2. Katie Mae Blues

3. Play With Your Poodle

4. Baby Please Don't Go

5. Needed Time

6. Short Haired Woman

7. Mad With You

8. Automobile

9. "T" Model Blues

10. Lightnin' Boogie

11. Black Cat Bone

12. Give Me Central 209

13. Coffee Blues

14. What's The Matter Now

15. I'm Wild About You Baby

16. Policy Game

17. Late In The Evening

18. Lightnin' Jump

19. Lightnin' Don't Feel Well

20. Movin' On Out Boogie

Disc 2

1. My Little Kewpie Doll

2. Blues For My Cookie

4. They Wonder Who I Am

5. Wimmin From Coast To Coast

6. Fan It

7. War Is Starting Again

8. Rolling And Rolling

9. Death Bells

10. I'll Be Gone

11. I Asked The Bossman

12. Shaggy Dad

13. Black Ghost Blues

14. No Education

15. Antoinette's Blues

16. Los Angeles Boogie

17. Let Them Little Things Be True

19. Mr. Charlie (Part 1)

20. Mr. Charlie (Part 2)

21. Fishing Clothes

x

Track List: The Complete Aladdin Recordings

Disc 1

1. Katie May

2. Feel So Bad

3. Blues (That Mean Old Twister)

5. Can't Do Like You Used To

6. West Coast Blues

7. Short Haired Woman

8. L.A. Blues

9. Big Mama Jump

10. Down Baby

11. Let Me Play With Your Poodle

12. Fast Mail Rambler

13. Thinkin' And Worryin'

14. Can't Get That Woman Off My Mind

15. Woman Woman

16. Picture On The Wall

17. You're Not Goin' To Worry My Life Anymore

18. You're Gonna Miss Me

19. Sugar On My Mind

20. Nightmare Blues

21. Someday Baby

22. Come Back Baby

Disc 2

1. Lightnin's Boogie

2. Baby You're Not Going To Make A Fool Out Of Me

4. Moon Rise Blues

5. Howling Wolf

6. Morning Blues

7. Have To Let You Go

8. Mama's Baby Child

9. Mistreated Blues

10. My California

11. Honey Babe

12. So Long

13. See See Rider

14. Unpredictable Woman

15. I Just Don't Care

16. Drinkin' Woman

17. Abilene

18. Shotgun

19. Rollin' And Rollin'

20. Tell It Like It Is

21. Miss Loretta

x

Track List: The Complete Prestige/Bluesville Recordings

Disc 1

2. Got To Move Your Baby

5. Last Night Blues

8. Conversation Blues

9. Automobile Blues

10. You Better Watch Yourself

11. Mean Old Frisco

12. Shinin' Moon

13. Come Back Baby

14. Thinkin' 'Bout An Old Friend

15. The Walkin' Blues

16. Back To New Orleans

17. Katie Mae

18. Down There Baby

Disc 2

2. Baby Don't You Tear My Clothes

4. Coffee Blues

9. Death Bells

12. Blues In The Bottle

16. T Model Blues

17. Jackstropper Blues

18. You Cook All Right

19. You Never Miss Your Water

21. Smokes Like Lightning

Disc 3

2. Black Cadillac

3. Walkin' This Road By Myself

4. The Devil Jumped The Black Man

6. You Is One Black Rat

7. The Fox Chase

8. Mojo Hand

9. Mama Blues

10. My Black Name

11. Ida Mae

12. Prison Farm Blues

13. Worried Life Blues

14. Happy Blues For John Glenn

15. Sinner's Prayer

16. Angel Child

17. I Got A Leak In This Old Building

18. Pneumonia Blues

19. Have You Ever Been Mistreated

Disc 4

1. Blues Is A Feeling

3. In The Evening

4. Ain't It Crazy

14. Goin' Away

17. Let's Go Sit On The Lawn

18. I Woke Up This Morning

Disc 5

1. Baby, Please Don't Go (live)

4. Mojo Hand

6. Short Haired Woman

7. Mean Old Frisco

8. Trouble In Mind (live)

14. I Got Tired

16. I Asked The Bossman

17. I'm Taking A Devil Of A Chance

18. Just A Wristwatch On My Arm

Disc 6

1. I Was Standing On 75 Highway

3. I'm Going To Build Me A Heaven Of My Own

4. My Babe

5. Too Many Drivers

6. I'm A Crawling Black Snake

7. Rocky Mountain Blues

8. I Mean Goodbye

9. The Howling Wolf

10. Black Ghost Blues

11. Darling, Do You Remember Me?

12. Lonesome Graveyard

Disc 7
x

Track List: Double Blues

1. Let's Go Sit On The Lawn

2. I'm Taking A Devil Of A Chance

3. I Got Tired

4. I Asked The Bossman

5. Just A Wristwatch On My Arm

6. I Woke Up This Morning

7. I Was Standing On 75 Highway

8. I'm Going To Build Me A Heaven Of My Own

9. My Babe

10. Too Many Drivers

11. I'm A Crawling Black Snake

12. Rocky Mountain Blues

13. I Mean Goodbye

14. The Howling Wolf

15. Black Ghost Blues

16. Darling, Do You Remember Me?

17. Lonesome Graveyard

x

Track List: Lightnin'!

1. Mojo Hand

2. Rock Me Baby

3. Hello Central

4. Ain't It Crazy

5. Little And Low

6. Hold Up Your Head

7. Good Times Here, Better Down The Road

8. Annie's Boogie

9. My Starter Won't Start This Morning

10. One Kind Favor I Ask Of You

11. Little Girl

12. Baby Please Don't Go

13. What'd I Say?

14. I Hear You Calling Me

15. Trouble In Mind

16. Come On Baby

17. At Home Blues

18. Take A Walk

19. Little Antoinette

20. Cut Me Out Baby

x

Track List: Blue Lightnin'

1. Found My Baby Crying

2. Move On Out, Pt. 1

3. Back Door Friend

4. Fishing Clothes

5. Gambler's Blues

6. Wig Wearing Woman

7. Lonesome Dog Blues

8. Last Affair

10. Morning Blues

11. Lightnin' Strikes One More Time

13. Daddy Was A Preacher

14. Jail House Blues

15. I Hate I Got Married

16. Lovin' Arms

x

Track List: Lightnin' Hopkins

1. Penitentiary Blues

2. Bad Luck And Trouble

3. Come Go Home With Me

4. Trouble Stay 'Way From My Door

5. See That My Grave Is Kept Clean

6. Goin' Back To Florida

7. Reminiscenses Of Blind Lemon

8. Fan It

9. Tell Me, Baby

10. She's Mine

x

Track List: Lightnin' In New York

1. The Trouble Blues

2. Lightnin's Piano Boogie

3. Wonder Why

4. Mister Charlie

5. Black Cat

6. Take It Easy

7. Mighty Crazy

8. Your Own Fault Baby, To Treat Me The Way You Do

9. I've Had My Fun, If I Don't Get Well No More

x

Track List: Nothin' But The Blues - An Anthology Of The Blues Part 4

1. So Long Baby

2. Santa Fe Blues

3. Mojo Hand

4. Little Wail

5. Cotton

6. Take Me Back

7. Nothin' But The Blues

8. Hurricane Betsy

9. Guitar Lightnin'

10. Woke Up This Morning

12. Big Car Blues

13. Shaggy Dog

14. I'll Be Gone

15. Talk Of The Town

Comments

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The Blues Brothers
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Amen Brother's & Sister's on the Blues Radio Good Song's Forever All on the Pandora yo
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Hopkins was a tap root for the blues, thank you sir
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I swear ,
The Blues is a great life story
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Learn your history..blu e s started rock and roll.
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This one makes my brain dance
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Ooooooooo... !
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I'm feelin' this down to the marrow, baby
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Couldn't add Hopkins to variety for my station - please enable this.
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Couldn't add Hopkins to variety for my station - please enable this.
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cevanthompso n 8 5
One Meat Ball Is performed by Josh White NOT Sam Hopkins
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Now, Dis is da Best of da Bluz....Play on Mr. Hopkins..... . .
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Now, Dis is da Bluz folks....... . . G o , Go Mr. Hopkins..... .
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Love his music, I know a lady who owned a bar at he played in . She told me about his music .has a good sound.
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If you aint got no money then you got the blues
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Lightnin is the real deal. The. Real. Deal. 'Nuff said now go listen to him fool
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Unreal man
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orderofthego r d o n s
Like Sam "lightnin' Hopkins? Check out Mance Lipscomb. A Texas bluesman in the same tradition.
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Stirs the soul.......w i t h or without acid........
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First time I heard Lightning Hopkins I was on acid with a girlfriend I had back in the day... it was pitch black in the room and she put on an album and colors flew out of the stereo... wow, what a night..
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Beautiful.
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I have long loved Sugar Mama versions from Lightnin' Hopkins. So much so that my husband calls me Sugar Mama. When this came up for the first time on Pandora, I was completely floored. Love, love, love. It nurtures me down in my soul.
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Awesome
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First time I heard Ligjtnin' Hopkins was "Short Haired Woman" I was simply awestruck by his sound. Something about it hit me deep in my soul. Been a fan ever since.
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One 1966 Black drop top Cadillac please...... . h o o o o o o o o o y a h
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kjohnson1614 7 5
as GOOD as they come
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curtfinch
Very good...blues y
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This guy and sings from the heart..... No special effects.... Just good old fashioned toe tapping music. Thank you Mr. Lightnin.... . .
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Treasured
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Smooth, flows nice...
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Gotta love that sound....
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I photographed him in Telluride Colorado in 1977 at the blues festival. I had back stag pass and got up close with him on stage. still have the pictures. dear to my heart. Ely
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he recorded an album in Houston 1965 Free Form Patterns where can I get this album? Ely
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That's right. The blues is nothing more than a good man feeling low.
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ronsavage999
Saw him in Boston coffeehouse around 61 . Absolutely stunned at how he played guitar. I was 14 and his influence on my playing is still strong.
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what ever Nancy
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Darn spell check
;-) thank you Lightnin' Hopkins
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Thank you lighting
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The first time i heard Hopkins i was on LSD... What an experience.
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Black folks the absolute most BRILLIANT and Talented when it comes to blues hands down...i love to listening to this guy lightnin Hopkins
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It cracks me up when youngsters relate to some of the current crop of musicians, especially guitarists, in the Rock/Pop genre as blues artists. None are. They are Rock/Pop musicians who appreciate the Blues. Lightnin' Hopkins Is the Blues.
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milehigh54
Yes Yes Yes It just don't get better n that!!
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Good call Nancy....... . If it were not for Pandora, I would have never heard this great artist....
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Hopkins' voice follows you, lies in wait. Steel and honey.
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Like the true Texas 'Bluesman' that he was no Others can match...
Blues' 2 the core'!
Thank u
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His voice!! Have mercy indeed. Love him.
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You might add several more words to your brief history of the blues for a little broader perspective: Mississippi John Hurt, Howling Wolf,Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, Son House, Muddy Waters, Charlie Patton, Victoria Spivey, for starters.
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The history of the blues could reasonably be summed up in two words: Lightnin' Hopkins
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Heavy, heavy, heavy...mmmm m !
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its the old real blues. ya got to respect this man. i can relate hes from my time. i am still learning from him.
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