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Lowell Fulson
Lowell Fulson
Age 77 6 Mar 99
Kidney disease,
Diabetes and 
Congestive heart failure
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OBITUARY 
        
       
 NY TIMES
Lowell Fulson, 
Who Took Texas-Style Blues to the West Coast,
Dies at 77 
 

          By JON PARELES  

               Lowell Fulson, a major figure in West Coast blues, died March 6 in Long Beach, Calif. He was 77 and lived in Los Angeles.  

          The cause was complications from kidney disease, diabetes and congestive heart failure, said his companion, Tina Mayfield.  

          Fulson took the smooth, jazz-tinged jump-blues of Texas to California, where he had rhythm-and-blues hits from the 1940s to the 60s. He wrote songs that were also recorded by Elvis Presley ("Reconsider Baby"), Otis Redding and Carla Thomas ("Tramp") and B.B. King ("Three O'Clock Blues"). He was a member of the Blues Hall of Fame and the Rhythm-and- Blues Hall of Fame.  

          Fulson was born in 1921 on a Choctaw Indian reservation in Oklahoma; his grandfather was a Choctaw. Fulson played gospel and country music before turning to the blues. In 1939 he replaced Chester Burnett (later known as Howlin' Wolf) in the band led by the country-blues singer Texas Alexander, who was based in Gainesville, Texas. He served two years in the Navy in Oakland, Calif., and stayed on the West Coast when he began his recording career in 1946.  

          He had his first rhythm-and-blues hit, "Three O'Clock Blues," on the Swingtime label in 1948, and went on tour in 1950 with a band that included Ray Charles on piano. Other bands Fulson led would  include Ike Turner on guitar and Stanley Turrentine or King Curtis on tenor saxophone. He continued to have hits, including a version of Memphis Slim's "Nobody Loves Me" that he retitled "Everyday I Have the Blues," and his own song, "Blue Shadows," in 1950. Although he lived in California, he began recording for the Chicago-based Checker label (part of Chess Records) in 1954, when he had a hit with "Reconsider Baby."  

          He moved in 1964 to Kent Records, recording as Lowell Fulsom, and his soul-styled "Tramp" reached No. 5 on the rhythm-and-blues chart in 1967. He continued to tour and record well into the 1990s, with albums for European labels and, most recently, for the Rounder and Bullseye Blues labels. He won five W.C. Handy blues awards in 1993 and his 1995 album, "Them Update Blues"  (Bullseye Blues), was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues album.  

          In addition to Ms. Mayfield, he is survived by a sister, Norvell Larney of Oklahoma; a brother, Jack  Stewart; two sons, Lowell Jr. and Richard; two daughters, Yvonne Penna and Edna Fulson, and 13 grandchildren, all of Los Angeles.  

 

 
 
 
 
       
 

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BIOGRAPHY
 
 
Born: Mar 31, 1921 in Tulsa, OK

BIO. Source  Born in Oklahoma, Fulson replaced one Chester Burnett -- better known as Howlin' Wolf -- in the band of a regional bluesman named Texas Alexander around 1939. After the war, Fulson moved out to California and achieved enough success to put together a band of his own, one which included a certain "Ray Charles" for a period of time. He recorded for the first time around 1946, but a hot 1948 take of "3 O'Clock Blues" was his first taste of long-term success. Recording for the long-gone Swingtime label, he waxed a record I still like, a take of the moody and ambivalent "Lonely Christmas," a song that still slows people down at Christmas parties, fifty years later. 

He was picked up by Chess' "Checker" label in 1954, and soon afterward had a giant hit in "Reconsider Baby," still covered by 
bands today. A followup, "I'm Glad You Reconsidered," is actually a little hotter record but failed to score as solidly -- the 
backup band is much more solid and the recording is clearer. But it didn't sell. 

Fulson stayed on Chess until sometime in 1963. 

He had a couple of big records in California in the mid-1960s on the Kent label, started by the Bihari family, who also owned 
Modern Records. One big one, "Tramp," was covered later by Otis Redding. A guitar sound with more edge than T-Bone, less 
rasp than John Lee Hooker, a better singing voice than B.B. King in those days, Lowell Fulson still records today on Rounder Records and their label, Bullseye. A few years ago he was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame and was nominated for a Grammy a year ago for Best Traditional Blues Album. The most famous bluesman nobody ever heard of, I call him. Fulson's style influence so many who went on to greater success, but the master keeps on playing long after the others have retired or passed on. 

So smooth, not flashy, yet sometimes he had that style that Sonny Boy had so well, the doomsayer, the bringer of bad news, the oracle to the seamy side. 


Here's an excerpt from Don Snowden's liner notes: 
"....Fulson's musical upbringing was in the Southwestern blues school pioneered by T-Bone Walker, a tradition where the guitar periodically 
stepped out to solo in front of a rollicking piano and scaled-down big band horn section that carried healthy portions of the melodic load.  Rather than the standard Mississippi to Chicago blues migration 
pattern, Fulson hopped on the West Coast train that funneled Texas and Louisiana folk to California during World War II. That plugged him right into the West Coast jump blues style being formulated by the 
likes of Roy Milton, Roy Brown and Johnnie Otis - one that became the most popular sound among African-American audiences in the immediate 
post-war period."

 
 
  
 
 

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