Personalities | Albert Collins | Sixties | Jazz & Blues
(Guitar, vocals, 1932–93)
Collins’s highly original and bold, chiselled tone – achieved through an idiosyncratic tuning and high volume – earned the Texan his nickname ‘The Iceman’. The moniker was abetted by a string of chilly-themed, early 1960s instrumental hits that incorporated R&B rhythms, including the million-selling ‘Frosty’, ‘Sno Cone’ and ‘Thaw Out’. Although his cousin was Lightnin’ Hopkins, Collins’s agressive playing style was primarily influenced by T-Bone Walker and Gatemouth Brown. He played almost exclusively on the so-called ‘crawfish circuit’ in Louisiana and Texas, reaching mostly black audiences.
He crossed over to the mainstream in the late 1960s, when he moved to California and was adopted by San Francisco’s psychedelic rock scene. Nonetheless, he achieved his greatest popularity after signing with Chicago-based Alligator Records in 1978, playing the Montreux Jazz Festival and winning a Grammy for 1985’s Showdown!, a collaboration with Robert Cray and Johnny Copeland. Collins was still among the top attractions in blues when he died from cancer in 1993.
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