Off Topic Messages

"Big Mama" Thornton

Sun Dec 11, 2005 11:37 pm

Willie Mae Thornton [known as "Big Mama" Thornton] would have been 79 today.

She actually died aged 57, of a heart attack, in July, 1984.

She did the bluesy original version of Leiber & Stoller's Hound Dog.

Surprising that she wasn't very much older than Elvis was.

Mon Dec 12, 2005 12:16 am

She sounded mean on that record! 8)

Mon Dec 12, 2005 1:19 am

I dig her 'I Smell A Rat', too. That's another Leiber & Stoller song.

Mon Dec 12, 2005 2:37 am

I always thought her "Hound Dog" was overrated. I think Greil Marcus' comment about it being good but ordinary was spot on. There's a very by the numbers feel to it. Although as Dr. Carpenter pointed out to me many moons ago, it was kind of a breakthrough that a woman was doing such a nasty blues. It was also one of the first R&B hits to attract a substantial white audience. Nonetheless, much of its reputation comes from Elvis' remake.

As for Big Mama's age, her hit was only three years before Elvis' version.

Mon Dec 12, 2005 9:31 am

JLGB wrote:She sounded mean on that record!


She could definitely belt out a tune in her day.

Mon Dec 12, 2005 11:36 am

likethebike wrote:As for Big Mama's age, her hit was only three years before Elvis' version.


Well, yes, I know, but she was from the 'old school' of singers who preceded the rock era, and her voice sounds like a woman in her 40's on the record.

But she must have only been around 26 !

Mon Dec 12, 2005 12:40 pm

ColinB wrote:
likethebike wrote:As for Big Mama's age, her hit was only three years before Elvis' version.


Well, yes, I know, but she was from the 'old school' of singers who preceded the rock era, and her voice sounds like a woman in her 40's on the record.

But she must have only been around 26 !


That´s true. I was quite surprised she would be only 79. When I opened this thread I thought something over 90 years old today if alive. LOL

And also thought she had more or less 45 when she recorded Hound Dog.

Mon Dec 12, 2005 3:24 pm

She had been on the road for awhile but I'm pretty sure she never recorded until the early 1950s.