Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Yahoo LAUNCHCAST song of the day
Artist:Big Mama Thornton
Album:Hound Dog:The Peacock Recordings
Today when people think of Hound Dog, they think of Elvis Presley's 1957 version. But legendary songwriters Jerry Lieber & Mike Stoller wrote it for blues growler Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton and she hit #1 in the R & B charts in 1953. And at 300lbs, Big Mama was as big as her voice. She had been around the Houston R & B scene in the 40s when Don Robey signed her to Peacock Records in 1951. The legendary Johnny Otis was brought in to produce and Big Mama's growling performance reached the top of the charts. Otis' guitarist Pete "Guitar" Lewis adds a real edge to it. Of course it had sexual innuendo too. Elvis never even heard this version. He was handed a sanitized version by a Vegas lounge singer and that's what he based his version on. Though Big Mama Thornton did get a cult following over the years when Janis Joplin covered her song Ball & Chain, she was never able to reach the heights of Hound Dog again. This comp is definitive. Big Mama Thornton continued to perform in clubs and died on July 25, 1984 at age 57 in a Los Angeles rooming house.