Big Mama Thornton

Real Name:
Willa Mae Thornton
Profile:
Born 11th December 1926, Montgomery, Alabama, USA
Died 25th July 1984, Los Angeles, California, USA

Thornton was the first artist to record "Hound Dog" (Peacock 1612), with which she had a Number 1 hit in the Billboard R&B chart in 1953 selling two million copies,. Later the same year she released "They Call Me Big Mama" (Peacock 1621). This release helped immortalize her nickname in the world of funky gospel and R&B music. She also wrote and recorded "Ball And Chain", which gained Janis Joplin attention in the late 1960s.

One of seven children, born to a Baptist church minister, she began singing and touring the South with the Georgia Hot Harlem Revue at the age of fourteen. She also played drums and harmonica and signed her first contract in Houston with Peacock Records in 1951.

In the latter part of her career Thornton appeared at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1966 & 1968, and the San Francisco Blues Festival in 1979. In 1966 she recorded the album Big Mama Thornton With The Chicago Blues Band on the Arhoolie label. She wrote a total of twenty-two blues releases and her first name "Willa Mae" is often credited as "Willie Mae".

Thornton died in Los Angeles in 1984 of heart and liver complications, compounded by years of alcohol abuse. It was the same year that she was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall Of Fame.
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Albums

F 1032 Big Mama Thornton - Big Mama Thornton And The Chicago Blues Band album art Big Mama Thornton And The Chicago Blues Band Big Mama Thornton And The Chicago Blues Band - Big Mama Thornton And The Chicago Blues Band (Album) Arhoolie Records F 1032 US 1966 Sell This Version
F 1028 Big Mama Thornton - In Europe album art Big Mama Thornton In Europe (Album) Arhoolie Records F 1028 US 1966 Sell This Version
SR.61225 Big Mama Thornton - Stronger Than Dirt album art Big Mama Thornton Stronger Than Dirt (Album) Mercury SR.61225 New Zealand 1969 Sell This Version
SR 61249 Big Mama Thornton - The Way It Is album art Big Mama Thornton The Way It Is (Album) Mercury SR 61249 US 1969 Sell This Version
PE 10005, PE 10,005 Big Mama Thornton - Saved album art Big Mama Thornton Saved Pentagram, Pentagram, Pentagram PE 10005, PE 10,005 US 1971 Sell This Version
VSD 79354 Big Mama Thornton - Sassy Mama! album art Big Mama Thornton Sassy Mama! (Album) Vanguard VSD 79354 US 1975 Sell This Version
VSD 79351 Big Mama Thornton - Jail album art Big Mama Thornton Jail (Album) Vanguard VSD 79351 US 1975 Sell This Version
PA-9723 Big Mama Thornton - Misty album art T. Honda* + Mama T.* T. Honda* + Mama T.* - Misty (Album) Trio Records PA-9723 Japan 1976 Sell This Version
QS 5022 Big Mama Thornton - Live At Newport album art Muddy Waters / Big Mama Thornton / B.B. King Muddy Waters / Big Mama Thornton / B.B. King - Live At Newport (Comp, Album) Intermedia Records QS 5022 US 1982 Sell This Version
CHD 277 Big Mama Thornton - You Ole Houn' Dawg album art Big Mama Thornton You Ole Houn' Dawg (Comp) Ace CHD 277 UK & Europe 1989 Sell This Version
RSCD 0002 Big Mama Thornton - The Rising Sun Collection album art Big Mama Thornton The Rising Sun Collection (Album) Just A Memory RSCD 0002 Germany 1994 Sell This Version
KATCD225FP Big Mama Thornton - Mighty Crazy album art Big Mama Thornton, Lightnin' Hopkins Big Mama Thornton, Lightnin' Hopkins - Mighty Crazy(CD, Album) Catfish Records KATCD225FP UK 2001 Sell This Version
CC-1104 Big Mama Thornton - Live & Together album art Big Mama Thornton, Clifton Chenier Big Mama Thornton, Clifton Chenier - Live & Together(LP, Album) Crazy Cajun CC-1104 US Unknown Sell This Version

Singles & EPs

1612 Big Mama Thornton - Hound Dog album art Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton* Hound Dog(Shellac) Peacock Records 1612 US 1953 Sell This Version
1621 Big Mama Thornton - Cotton Picking Blues / They Call Me Big Mama album art Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton*, Kansas City Bell & Orchestra, Bill Harvey's Orchestra Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton*, Kansas City Bell & Orchestra, Bill Harvey's Orchestra - Cotton Picking Blues / They Call Me Big Mama Peacock Records 1621 US 1953 Sell This Version
1626 Big Mama Thornton - I Ain't No Fool Either/The Big Change album art Big Mama Thornton I Ain't No Fool Either/The Big Change(Shellac, 10") Peacock Records 1626 US 1953 Sell This Version
5-1626 Big Mama Thornton - I Ain't No Fool Either/The Big Change album art Big Mama Thornton I Ain't No Fool Either/The Big Change(7") Peacock Records 5-1626 US 1953 Sell This Version
PSP-1004 Big Mama Thornton - Hound Dog  album art "Big Mama" Thornton* Hound Dog (7") Prestige Records (14) PSP-1004 Australia 1957 Sell This Version
PEP-1176 Big Mama Thornton - Rock Me Daddy-O album art Little Richard, Big Walter And The Thunderbirds*, Jesse Mae "Big Mama" Thornton*, Louis Jones (2) Little Richard, Big Walter And The Thunderbirds*, Jesse Mae "Big Mama" Thornton*, Louis Jones (2) - Rock Me Daddy-O(7", EP) Prestige Records (14) PEP-1176 Australia 1958 Sell This Version
K 424x45 Big Mama Thornton - Before Day / Me And My Chauffeur album art Big Mama Thornton Before Day / Me And My Chauffeur(7", Single) Kent K 424x45 US 1965 Sell This Version
749 Big Mama Thornton - Because It's Love / Life Goes On album art Big Mama Thornton Because It's Love / Life Goes On (Single) Galaxy 749 US 1966 Sell This Version
D-1495 Big Mama Thornton - Hound Dog / I Smell A Rat album art Big Mama Thornton Hound Dog / I Smell A Rat(7", Single, RE) ABC/Dunhill Records D-1495 US 1973 Sell This Version
HS-45-07 Big Mama Thornton - Tracy (All I Have Is You) / Wade In The Water album art Barry White / Big Mama Thornton & Her Hounddogs (2) Barry White / Big Mama Thornton & Her Hounddogs (2) - Tracy (All I Have Is You) / Wade In The Water(7") HipShakin HS-45-07 UK 2016 Sell This Version
TMR-№504 Big Mama Thornton - Ann Arbor Blues Festival 1969 album art Mississippi Fred McDowell* / Mississippi Fred McDowell* And Big Mama Thornton Mississippi Fred McDowell* / Mississippi Fred McDowell* And Big Mama Thornton - Ann Arbor Blues Festival 1969(10", Mono, Ltd, Promo) Third Man Records TMR-№504 US 2019 Sell This Version
45-520 Big Mama Thornton - Ball And Chain Part 1 / Wade In The Water album art Big Mama Thornton And Her Hounddogs (2) Big Mama Thornton And Her Hounddogs (2) - Ball And Chain Part 1 / Wade In The Water Arhoolie Records 45-520 US Unknown Sell This Version