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 Fuller Up The Dead Musician Directory 
 
     Kathryn Jewel Thorne
AKA
     Katie Webster 
      September 5, 1999 
      Age 60
 
Heart Failure  
    
    
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    'Swamp 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 
                   Houston.  

                   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 
                   pregnant.  

                   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 
                   select festivals.  

                   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." 

Canoe
    
   
 The piano pounding "Swamp Boogie Queen," Katie Webster, 
 passed away on Sunday (Sept. 5). She was 60.  

 Born Kathryn Thorne, Webster became a popular session 
 player and recorded her own sides starting in the late 1950s. 
 In 1964, Otis Redding chose Webster to be his opening act, 
 a job that lasted three years.  

 After making a comeback with live performances in the early 
 1980s, Webster began recording for the Alligator label. She 
 released three albums on Alligator before suffering a stroke in 
 1993. ~AMG

 
Billboard
        
       Pianist Katie Webster Dead At 63 
                    Blues singer/pianist Katie Webster died 
                    Sunday of heart failure at her home in 
                    League City, Texas. She was 63. Webster 
                    recorded prolifically for Excello and 
                    Goldband during the '50s and '60s and 
                    was a member of Otis Redding's band in 
                    the late '60s. Her '80s and '90s albums for 
                    Arhoolie and Alligator Records displayed 
                    her talents as a boogie-woogie, R&B, 
                    swamp-pop, blues, and Southern soul player. She continued to 
                    perform after suffering a debilitating stroke in 1993. Services 
                    are scheduled for Sept. 14 in Houston.  

                                                           -Chris Morris, L.A. 
 

 
 
 
       
 

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BIOGRAPHY
 
 
All-Music Guide
 
 A piano-pounding institution on the southern Louisiana swamp blues scene during the late '50s and  early '60s, Katie Webster later grabbed a long-deserved share of national recognition with three recent Alligator albums before a 1993 stroke temporarily shelved her. 

 Poor Kathryn Thorne had to deal with deeply religious parents that did everything in their power to stop their daughter from playing R&B. But the rocking sounds of Fats Domino and Little Richard were simply too persuasive. Local guitarist Ashton Savoy took her under his wing, sharing her 1958 debut 45 for the Kry logo ("Baby Baby"). 

 Webster rapidly became an invaluable studio sessioneer for Louisiana producers J.D. Miller in Crowley and Eddie Shuler in Lake Charles. She played on sides by Guitar Junior (Lonnie Brooks), Clarence Garlow, Jimmy Wilson, Lazy Lester, and Phil Phillips (her gently rolling 88s powered his hit "Sea of Love"). 

 The young pianist also waxed some terrific sides of her own for Miller from 1959 to 1961 for his Rocko, Action, and Spot labels (where she introduced a dance called "The Katie Lee"). Webster led her own band, the Uptighters, at the same time she was spending her days in the studio. In 1964, she guested with Otis Redding's band at the Bamboo Club in Lake Charles and so impressed the charismatic Redding that he absconded with her. For the next three years, Webster served as his opening act! 

 The 1970s were pretty much a lost decade for Katie Webster as she took care of her ailing parents in Oakland, CA. But in 1982 a European tour beckoned, and she journeyed overseas for the first of many such jaunts. The Alligator connection commenced in 1988 with some high-profile help: Bonnie Raitt, Robert Cray, and Kim Wilson all made guest appearances on The Swamp Boogie Queen. The lovably extroverted boogie pianist encored with Two-Fisted Mama! and No Foolin' before suffering the stroke. -- Bill Dahl, All-Music Guide

 
 
  
 
 

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