Texas-Style Blues to the West Coast,
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
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
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
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.