Personalities | Big Mama Thornton | Fifties | Jazz & Blues
(Harmonica, vocals, 1926–84)
Willie Mae Thornton was born in Montgomery, Alabama. She settled in Houston, Texas in 1948 and began recording for the Peacock label in 1951. She toured with Johnny Otis in 1952–53 and recorded her number-one R&B hit, ‘Hound Dog’, with his band. The record, famously covered by Elvis Presley, enabled her to branch out on her own. After leaving Peacock in 1957, she settled in the San Francisco area and worked as a solo artist. She recorded albums for Arhoolie, Mercury and Vanguard in the 1960s and 1970s.
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