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
PA-3053 Big Mama Thornton Big Mama the Queen at Monterey(LP) Arhoolie Records, Trio Records PA-3053 Japan 1967 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
Big Mama Thornton She's Back (Album) MCA Records US 1977 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
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

1587 Willie Mae Thornton*, Bill Harvey's Band Willie Mae Thornton*, Bill Harvey's Band - No Jody For Me / Let Your Tears Fall Baby(Shellac, 10") Peacock Records 1587 US 1951 Sell This Version
Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton* Hound Dog / Rock A Bye Baby (Single) Peacock Records US 1953 Sell This Version
118 Johnny Ace And Band* / Johnny Ace And Willie Mae Thornton* Johnny Ace And Band* / Johnny Ace And Willie Mae Thornton* - Saving My Love For You / Yes, Baby(Shellac, 10") Duke 118 US 1953 Sell This Version
Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton* Hound Dog / Night Mare (Single) Peacock Records US 1953 Sell This Version
5-1654 Willie Mae Thornton* And Elroy Peace / Willie Mae Thornton* Willie Mae Thornton* And Elroy Peace / Willie Mae Thornton* - Tarzan And The Dignified Monkey / How Come(7", Single) Peacock Records 5-1654 US 1955 Sell This Version
5-1650 Willie M. Thornton* The Fish / Laugh, Laugh, Laugh(7", Single) Peacock Records 5-1650 US 1955 Sell This Version
1654 Willie Mae Thornton* Tarzan And The Dignified Monkey / How Come(Shellac, 10", Single, Mono) Peacock Records 1654 US 1955 Sell This Version
Willie Mae Thornton* Tom Cat / Monkey In The Barn (Single) Sotoplay, Sotoplay UK 1965 Sell This Version
K 424X45 Big Mama Thornton Before Day / Me And My Chauffeur(7", Single) Kent K 424X45 US 1965 Sell This Version
72981 Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton* Hound Dog / Let's Go Get Stoned(7", Single) Mercury 72981 US 1969 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