Boogie Queen' Katie Webster dies
LEAGUE CITY, Texas (AP) -- Katie Webster,
the blues singer known as "The Swamp Boogie
Queen" for her frenetic, two-fisted piano style, has
died. She was 63.
Ms. Webster died of heart failure Sunday at her
home in League City, just southeast of her native
Born Kathryn Jewel Thorne, Ms. Webster first
learned to play gospel and classical music.
Her parents, wary of secular influences, kept the
piano locked up so she couldn't play unsupervised.
But, thanks to an old Philco radio she smuggled
into her bedroom, Ms. Webster was exposed to
the earthly, earthy tunes they discouraged.
As a teen, she moved in with more permissive
relatives in south Louisiana and, by age 15, became
one of the most requested studio musicians in the
region. Her music appears on more than 500
singles cut in the 1950s and 1960s.
A young Otis Redding discovered her playing with
her band in 1964. She toured with him until his
death in a 1967 plane crash that might have killed
her, except she couldn't fly because she was
Devastated, Ms. Webster essentially stopped
performing until the early 1980s, when she took
Europe by storm. She also became a favorite in the
U.S. blues festival circuit and recorded on the
Chicago-based Alligator Records label with the
likes of Robert Cray and Bonnie Raitt.
A 1993 stroke severely damaged her eyesight and
use of her left hand, but she continued to appear at
An Associated Press reviewer, critiquing
February's "Deluxe Edition," a compilation album
featuring past recordings, wrote that Ms. Webster
"combined a soulful voice with a rollicking piano
style to reign as Queen of the Boogie."