Tom in North Carolina wrote:What a terrible loss for the music industry. I've got several of his albums and always thought this guy would just live forever. This is a sad day, indeed.
P.S. For those not familiar with him, pick up Welcome to the Club:The Essential Chess Recordings, The Complete Checker Hit Singles, Anthology 1953-1961, and Little Milton-Greatest Hits. Sit back and enjoy! I know I will tonight. RIP Little Milton.
Great recent 2-CD set of his Sun and Bobbin sides
A terrific set for Chess, mid '60s
"Walking the Back Streets" for Stax!
A chock full of latter-day soul-blues classics
This was his last album, from May 2005, his first for Telarc
Anyway, great sets, Tom! I'm a partisan of the old LP "Big Blues From Little Milton" on Chess.
Unfortunately, it's super-rare on CD and most of it was over-looked on the otherwise stellar "Welcome to the Club" set.
I also recommend his '90s "Greatest Hits" set from Malaco, which focused on his '80s and '90s work, but also smartly sampled his biggest Stax hits of the early '70s. He did some great albums in the '00s for Malaco, too.
Here is ROLLING STONE's
Little Milton Dies at 70
Influential bluesman recorded for Sun, Chess and Stax
Blues Hall of Famer Little Milton, who combined the tough electric blues sound of the early 1950s with the punchy, showtime arrangements of R&B, soul and funk, died in Memphis yesterday (August 4) of complications from two recent strokes. He was seventy.
James Milton Campbell Jr. was born September 7, 1934, in Inverness, Mississippi. As a child he was enthralled with the local guitarists who played at his stepfather's house parties. "I'd be tucked in bed," he once recalled, "but the minute that the guy would hit the guitar, they'd look around and I'd be standing there, little long drawers on." By the age of fifteen, he was performing in a juke joint said to have been owned by B.B. King's mother-in-law.
Still in his teens, "Little" Milton signed with Sam Phillips' Sun Records in 1953, on the advice of Ike Turner. One of the last blues musicians to record for Sun before the arrival of Elvis, young Milton dabbled in several styles, emulating Fats Domino, T-Bone Walker and B.B. King, among others. "Back then I didn't know who Little Milton was," Milton said. "I was just doing whoever came out with a hit record."
Moving from Sun through a succession of iconic labels, including Chess and Stax, Milton grew into a formidable figure in his own right. He scored his first hit, "I'm a Lonely Man," for St. Louis-based Bobbin Records in 1958. His biggest success, the brassy, soulful "We're Gonna Make It" -- a song that became associated with the civil rights movement -- was a Number One hit on the R&B chart in 1965, reaching Number Twenty-five on the pop chart. Milton's emotive take on Willie Dixon's "I Can't Quit You Baby" is said to have inspired Led Zeppelin's own version. His other notable songs of that period, when he was a fixture of the R&B charts, include "If Walls Could Talk," "Who's Cheating Who?" and "Grits Ain't Groceries."
An appearance in the 1973 concert film Wattstax -- his song "Walking the Back Streets and Crying" was included on the soundtrack album -- helped introduce Milton to a new generation of listeners. Less productive was a subsequent signing with Miami's TK/Glades, home of K.C. and the Sunshine Band. Beginning in the 1980s, Milton began a long relationship with Malaco Records, a collaboration which restored his reputation as a blues torchbearer. In 1988 he was elected to the Blues Hall of Fame and named W.C. Handy Blues Entertainer of the Year. A dozen years later, he earned his sole Grammy nomination for Welcome to Little Milton, an album that featured duets with Lucinda Williams, Susan Tedeschi, Keb' Mo' and Peter Wolf. Little Milton's last record, his first for the Telarc label, was warmly received when it came out in May 2005. It is called Think of Me.
by JAMES SULLIVAN
Here's a better, fuller obit:
from the Memphis Commercial Appeal:
Bluesman Little Milton dead at 70
By Kathy Hanrahan
The Associated Press
August 4, 2005
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Little Milton Campbell, who sang the blues and
performed with some of the country's top performers, died Thursday of
complications of a stroke.
Campbell, 70, died Thursday at about 8:50 a.m. at Delta Medical
Center in Memphis, Tenn. A statement from the family said the
musician died from a cerebral hemorrhage as a result of a stroke
Campbell suffered on July 27.
Funeral services were pending. Campbell is survived by his wife,
Patricia, and three children.
Greg Preston, a close friend and producer of Campbell's
Grammy-nominated album 2000's "Welcome to Little Milton," visited the
singer in the hospital over the weekend.
Preston said he played some of the bluesman's music in an attempt to
bring him out of his comatose state.
"I hope he heard me," Preston said.
The Inverness native had been scheduled to perform Aug. 11 at
Clarksdale's Ground Zero Blues Club for the blues documentary "Native
Sons," but that performance was canceled.
Campbell's last appearance in Jackson was at The Allman Brothers Band
concert in May.
Preston described the bond between Campbell and The Allman Brothers
Band, especially Wayne Haynes as "beautiful."
"They (Campbell and Haynes) had this love for each other. When they
played together it was beautiful because they knew ... what the other
was gonna do," Preston said. "There was a kindred spirit there."
Milton played more than a dozen times with Haynes' band Gov't Mule
throughout the years. Gov't Mule played two songs on Campbell's
Grammy nominated album.
"He was very humble and generous and didn't take on a competitive
nature when he was on stage. It was all about making the music the
best it could be and making the audience comfortable," Haynes told
The Associated Press.
Campbell is best remembered for his booming voices, one that Preston
said resonated with audiences nationwide.
"Every time I was in the studio with him his voice was bigger than
the whole building," he said.
His detail to every note played on his Gibson Hollowbody 355 guitar
made him a truly unique artist, he said.
"Most guitar players they think the more notes the better. Milton,
B.B. and Albert King - their style was you make every note count.
Because one note can touch an amazing amount of people.
"It's not how many you play or how fast you play. It's how you play
that one note. That was his style."
Campbell's hit record "We're Gonna Make It" and his 1978 vintage
black jacket were on display in Clarksdale last year as part of a
"Sweet Home Chicago" exhibit at the Delta Blues Museum.
In an interview with The Associated Press last year, Campbell said
the exhibit would raise the awareness of blues music and performers.
"The people are the stars, not me," Campbell said after attending the
exhibit's opening last July. "I am just one that is fortunate to have
a little talent. When you do it right, they remember you and that is
important to me.
"To realize that they are trying to immortalize in a sense your
contribution to your profession, certainly none of us are going to
live forever, basically in a sense it sort of makes you immortal to
know that once you are gone, people are going to walk by and some
will say 'you were great.' Some will say 'maybe you weren't so
great,'" he said.
Campbell's music was described as having a gritty feel, with pleading
vocals and frequently lyrics of dashed love.
Campbell was born on a Delta farm near Inverness on Sept. 7, 1934. He
was named after his father, Big Milton, who was a locally known blues
In 1953, Campbell was introduced to Sam Phillips of Sun Records by
artist/talent scout Ike Turner. Some of his first recordings were on
the Sun label backed by the Ike Turner Band.
In a 2003 tribute to the late Phillips, Campbell said Phillips cared
little about critics who were unhappy with "what they called at that
time, black music."
"He would always say, 'Well, I don't worry about what nobody else
say. I'm going to do what I want to do,'" Campbell said.
Campbell went on to record "I'm a Lonely Man" and "That Will Never
Do" for Bobbin Records. He switched to Checker Records in 1960 and in
1965, he had a hit entitled "We're Gonna Make It."
Campbell joined Stax Records in 1971 and recorded "Annie Mae's Cafe"
and "Little Bluebird," two of his most memorable songs.
Campbell was presented with the W.C. Handy 1988 Blues Entertainer of
the Year. He was also inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame that year.
The Delta native also enjoyed a career with Malaco Records in
Jackson, which began in 1984. At the label he wrote "The Blues Is
Alright" and recorded the album "Welcome To Little Milton," which was
nominated in 2000 for Best Contemporary Blues Album.
At his death, Campbell was signed with the label Telarc International
based in Cleveland, Ohio. His last album "Think of Me" was released
in May 2005.
In a statement, Pat Campbell and the label expressed thanks for the
"outpouring of support from well-wishers throughout the blues community."
Telarc spokeswoman Amanda Sweet said condolences can be directed to
the Campbell family through the record label and monetary donations
can be made through a fund established at the St. Jude Children's
Research Hospital in Memphis.