Big Mama Thornton

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", with which she had a Number 1 hit in the Billboard R&B chart in 1952. On the flipside of the single was "They Call Me Big Mama". Selling two million copies, 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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Big Mama Thornton Discography

Albums

Big Mama Thornton With Muddy Waters Blues Band Big Mama Thornton With Muddy Waters Blues Band - Big Mama Thornton And The Chicago Blues Band (Album) Arhoolie Records US 1966 Sell This Version
Big Mama Thornton In Europe (Album) Arhoolie Records US 1966 Sell This Version
Big Mama Thornton Stronger Than Dirt (Album) Mercury Canada 1969 Sell This Version
Big Mama Thornton The Way It Is (Album) Mercury US 1969 Sell This Version
Big Mama Thornton Saved Pentagram, Pentagram, Pentagram US 1971 Sell This Version
Big Mama Thornton Jail (Album) Vanguard US 1975 Sell This Version
Big Mama Thornton Sassy Mama! (Album) Vanguard US 1975 Sell This Version
T. Honda* + Mama T.* T. Honda* + Mama T.* - Misty (Album) Trio Records Japan 1976 Sell This Version
VPC 40001 Big Mama Thornton Mama's Pride(LP, Album) Vanguard VPC 40001 UK 1978 Sell This Version
Muddy Waters / Big Mama Thornton / B.B. King Muddy Waters / Big Mama Thornton / B.B. King - Live At Newport (Comp) Intermedia Records US 1982 Sell This Version
Big Mama Thornton The Rising Sun Collection (Album) Just A Memory Canada 1994 Sell This Version
KATCD225FP Big Mama Thornton, Lightnin' Hopkins Big Mama Thornton, Lightnin' Hopkins - Mighty Crazy(CD, Album) Catfish Records KATCD225FP UK 2001 Sell This Version
Big Mama Thornton She's Back (Album) MCA Records US Unknown Sell This Version
CC-1104 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

1621 Big Mama Thornton Cotton Picking Blues/They Call Me Big Mama(Shellac, 10") Peacock Records 1621 US 1953 Sell This Version
K 424x45 Big Mama Thornton Before Day / Me And My Chauffeur(7", Single) Kent K 424x45 US 1965 Sell This Version
D-1495 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 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
45-512 Big Mama Thornton Swing It On Home / My Heavy Load(7") Arhoolie Records 45-512 US Unknown Sell This Version
1642 Big Mama Thornton Stop Hoppin' On Me / Story Of My Blues(Shellac, 10", Single) Peacock Records 1642 US Unknown Sell This Version
749 Big Mama Thornton Life Goes On(7", Promo, Single) Galaxy 749 USA & Canada Unknown Sell This Version
Angel #1 (11-88) Big Mama Thornton, Paul & Dale Big Mama Thornton, Paul & Dale - Hound Dog / She Belongs To Me(7", Single, Promo) Angel Records Angel #1 (11-88) US Unknown Sell This Version
45-520 Big Mama Thornton And Her Hounddogs (2) Big Mama Thornton And Her Hounddogs (2) - Ball And Chain Part 1 / Wade In The Water(7") Arhoolie Records 45-520 US Unknown Sell This Version

Compilations

Big Mama Thornton, Lightnin' Hopkins, Larry Williams (8) Big Mama Thornton, Lightnin' Hopkins, Larry Williams (8) - Ball And Chain (Comp) Arhoolie Records US 1968 Sell This Version
CH 170 Big Mama Thornton Quit Snoopin' Round My Door(LP, Comp) Ace CH 170 UK 1986 Sell This Version