Joe Hill Louis

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Joe Hill Louis
Birth nameLester Hill
Also known asThe Be-Bop Boy, The Pepticon Boy
Born(1921-09-23)September 23, 1921
Raines, Tennessee, United States
DiedAugust 5, 1957(1957-08-05) (aged 35)
Memphis, Tennessee, United States
Genres Blues
Instruments Vocals, guitar, electric guitar, harmonica, drums
Years active1940s–1957
Labels Phillips, [1] Sun, Checker, Modern, Columbia. [2]

Joe Hill Louis (September 23, 1921 – August 5, 1957), born Lester Hill, was an American singer, guitarist, harmonica player and one-man band. He was one of a small number of one-man blues bands (along with fellow Memphis bluesman Doctor Ross) to have recorded commercially in the 1950s. He was also a session musician for Sun Records.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the most populous city is New York City. Most of the country is located contiguously in North America between Canada and Mexico.

Singing act of producing musical sounds with the voice

Singing is the act of producing musical sounds with the voice and augments regular speech by the use of sustained tonality, rhythm, and a variety of vocal techniques. A person who sings is called a singer or vocalist. Singers perform music that can be sung with or without accompaniment by musical instruments. Singing is often done in an ensemble of musicians, such as a choir of singers or a band of instrumentalists. Singers may perform as soloists or accompanied by anything from a single instrument up to a symphony orchestra or big band. Different singing styles include art music such as opera and Chinese opera, Indian music and religious music styles such as gospel, traditional music styles, world music, jazz, blues, ghazal and popular music styles such as pop, rock, electronic dance music and filmi.

Guitar Fretted string instrument

The guitar is a fretted musical instrument that usually has six strings. It is typically played with both hands by strumming or plucking the strings with either a guitar pick or the finger(s)/fingernails of one hand, while simultaneously fretting with the fingers of the other hand. The sound of the vibrating strings is projected either acoustically, by means of the hollow chamber of the guitar, or through an electrical amplifier and a speaker.

Contents

Early life

Louis was born Lester (or possibly Leslie) Hill [3] on September 23, 1921, [4] in Raines, Tennessee. [5] His nickname "Joe Louis" arose as a result of a childhood fight with another youth. [3] At the age of 14 he left home to work as a servant for a wealthy Memphis family. [6] He also worked at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis in the late 1930s. From the early 1940s onwards he worked as a musician and one-man band. [4]

Raines, Tennessee, was a southern suburb of Memphis, Tennessee, located between West Junction, Tennessee, and Oakville, Tennessee. In 1950 it had a population of 300.

Joe Louis American boxer

Joseph Louis Barrow, best known as Joe Louis was an American professional boxer who competed from 1934 to 1951. He reigned as the world heavyweight champion from 1937 to 1949, and is considered to be one of the greatest heavyweight boxers of all time. Nicknamed the "Brown Bomber", Louis' championship reign lasted 140 consecutive months, during which he participated in 26 championship fights. The 27th fight, against Ezzard Charles in 1950, was a challenge for Charles' heavyweight title and so is not included in Louis' reign. He was victorious in 25 consecutive title defenses. In 2005, Louis was ranked as the best heavyweight of all time by the International Boxing Research Organization, and was ranked number one on The Ring magazine's list of the "100 greatest punchers of all time".

Peabody Hotel United States historic place

The Peabody Memphis is a luxury hotel in Downtown Memphis, Tennessee. The hotel is known for the "Peabody Ducks" that live on the hotel rooftop and make daily treks to the lobby. The Peabody is a member of Historic Hotels of America, a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Recording and radio career

Louis' recording debut was made for Columbia in 1949, and his music was released on a variety of independent labels through the 1950s, most notably recording for Sam Phillips' Sun Records, [3] for whom he recorded extensively as a backing musician for a wide variety of other singers as well as under his own name. [6]

Sam Phillips American businessman, record executive, record producer and DJ

Samuel Cornelius Phillips was an American record producer who played an important role in the development of rock and roll during the 1950s. He was the founder of Sun Records and Sun Studio, in Memphis, Tennessee, where he produced recordings by Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, and Howlin' Wolf. He launched Presley's career in 1954. Phillips sold Sun in 1969 to Shelby Singleton.

His most notable electric blues single, "Boogie in the Park" (recorded in July 1950 and released the following month), featured Louis performing "one of the loudest, most overdriven, and distorted guitar stomps ever recorded" while also playing a rudimentary drum kit. It was the only record released on Sam Phillips's early Phillips label before he founded Sun Records. [1] Louis's electric guitar playing is also considered a predecessor of heavy metal music. [7]

Electric blues refers to any type of blues music distinguished by the use of electric amplification for musical instruments. The guitar was the first instrument to be popularly amplified and used by early pioneers T-Bone Walker in the late 1930s and John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters in the 1940s. Their styles developed into West Coast blues, Detroit blues, and post-World War II Chicago blues, which differed from earlier, predominantly acoustic-style blues. By the early 1950s, Little Walter was a featured soloist on blues harmonica or blues harp using a small hand-held microphone fed into a guitar amplifier. Although it took a little longer, the electric bass guitar gradually replaced the stand-up bass by the early 1960s. Electric organs and especially keyboards later became widely used in electric blues.

Distortion (music) form of audio signal processing giving "fuzzy" sound

Distortion and overdrive are forms of audio signal processing used to alter the sound of amplified electric musical instruments, usually by increasing their gain, producing a "fuzzy", "growling", or "gritty" tone. Distortion is most commonly used with the electric guitar, but may also be used with other electric instruments such as bass guitar, electric piano, and Hammond organ. Guitarists playing electric blues originally obtained an overdriven sound by turning up their vacuum tube-powered guitar amplifiers to high volumes, which caused the signal to distort. While overdriven tube amps are still used to obtain overdrive in the 2010s, especially in genres like blues and rockabilly, a number of other ways to produce distortion have been developed since the 1960s, such as distortion effect pedals. The growling tone of distorted electric guitar is a key part of many genres, including blues and many rock music genres, notably hard rock, punk rock, hardcore punk, acid rock, and heavy metal music.

Drum kit collection of drums and other percussion instruments

A drum kit — also called a drum set, trap set, or simply drums — is a collection of drums and other percussion instruments, typically cymbals, which are set up on stands to be played by a single player, with drumsticks held in both hands, and the feet operating pedals that control the hi-hat cymbal and the beater for the bass drum. A drum kit consists of a mix of drums and idiophones – most significantly cymbals, but can also include the woodblock and cowbell. In the 2000s, some kits also include electronic instruments. Also, both hybrid and entirely electronic kits are used.

His most notable recording at Sun Records was probably as guitarist on Rufus Thomas's "Bear Cat", an answer record to Big Mama Thornton's "Hound Dog", which reached number 3 on the R&B chart [8] and resulted in legal action for copyright infringement. He also shared writing credit for the song "Tiger Man", which has been recorded by Elvis Presley, among others. Around 1950 he took over the Pepticon Boy radio program on WDIA from B. B. King. [9] He was also known as "The Pepticon Boy" and "The Be-Bop Boy". [3]

Rufus Thomas 1917-2001 American singer

Rufus C. Thomas, Jr. was an American rhythm-and-blues, funk, soul and blues singer, songwriter, dancer, DJ and comic entertainer from Memphis, Tennessee. He recorded for several labels, including Chess Records and Sun Records in the 1950s, before becoming established in the 1960s and 1970s at Stax Records. He is best known for his novelty dance records, including "Walking the Dog" (1963), "Do the Funky Chicken" (1969) and "(Do the) Push and Pull" (1970). According to the Mississippi Blues Commission, "Rufus Thomas embodied the spirit of Memphis music perhaps more than any other artist, and from the early 1940s until his death . . . occupied many important roles in the local scene."

Big Mama Thornton American rhythm and blues singer and songwriter

Willie Mae Thornton, better known as Big Mama Thornton, was an American rhythm-and-blues singer and songwriter. She was the first to record Leiber and Stoller's "Hound Dog", in 1952, which became her biggest hit, staying seven weeks at number one on the Billboard R&B chart in 1953 and selling almost two million copies. Thornton's other recordings included the original version of "Ball and Chain", which she wrote.

Hound Dog (song) Original song written and composed by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller; originally recorded by Big Mama Thornton

"Hound Dog" is a twelve-bar blues song written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. Recorded originally by Big Mama Thornton on August 13, 1952, in Los Angeles and released by Peacock Records in late February 1953, "Hound Dog" was Thornton's only hit record, selling over 500,000 copies, spending 14 weeks in the R&B charts, including seven weeks at number one. Thornton's recording of "Hound Dog" is listed as one of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's "500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll", and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in February 2013.

Death

Louis died on August 5, 1957, in John Gaston Hospital, in Memphis, [4] at the age of 35, of tetanus contracted as a result of an infected cut on his thumb, sustained while he was working as an odd job man. [6]

Tetanus A serious infectious disorder that follows wound contamination by the Gram-positive bacterium Clostridium tetani. The bacteria produce a neurotoxin called tetanospasmin, which causes muscle spasm in the jaw and other anatomic sites.

Tetanus, also known as lockjaw, is a bacterial infection characterized by muscle spasms. In the most common type, the spasms begin in the jaw and then progress to the rest of the body. Each spasm usually lasts a few minutes and spasms occur frequently for three to four weeks. Spasms may be severe enough to cause bone fractures. Other symptoms of tetanus may include fever, sweating, headache, trouble swallowing, high blood pressure, and a fast heart rate. Onset of symptoms is typically three to twenty-one days following infection. Recovery may take months. About ten percent of cases prove fatal.

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Rock and roll is a genre of popular music that originated and evolved in the United States during the late 1940s and early 1950s from musical styles such as gospel, jump blues, jazz, boogie woogie, and rhythm and blues, and country music. While elements of what was to become rock and roll can be heard in blues records from the 1920s and in country records of the 1930s, the genre did not acquire its name until 1954.

Rocket 88 song written and composed by Jackie Brenston; based on the original song Cadillac Boogie by Joe Liggins

"Rocket 88" is a rhythm and blues song that was first recorded in Memphis, Tennessee, on March 3 or 5, 1951. The recording was credited to Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats, who were actually Ike Turner and his Kings of Rhythm.

Memphis blues

The Memphis blues is a style of blues music created from the 1910s to the 1930s by musicians in the Memphis area, like Frank Stokes, Sleepy John Estes, Furry Lewis and Memphis Minnie. The style was popular in vaudeville and medicine shows and was associated with Beale Street, the main entertainment area in Memphis, W. C. Handy, the "Father of the Blues", published the song "The Memphis Blues". In lyrics, the phrase has been used to describe a depressed mood.

Blues rock is a fusion genre combining elements of blues and rock. It is mostly an electric ensemble-style music with instrumentation similar to electric blues and rock: electric guitar, electric bass guitar, and drums, sometimes with keyboards and harmonica. From its beginnings in the early- to mid-1960s, blues rock has gone through several stylistic shifts and along the way it inspired and influenced hard rock, Southern rock, and early heavy metal. Blues rock continues to be an influence in the 2010s, with performances and recordings by popular artists.

Rock and roll emerged as a defined musical style in the United States in the early to mid-1950s. It derived most directly from the rhythm and blues music of the 1940s, which itself developed from earlier blues, boogie woogie, jazz and swing music, and was also influenced by gospel, country and western, and traditional folk music. Rock and roll in turn provided the main basis for the music that, since the mid-1960s, has been generally known simply as rock music.

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Pinetop Perkins American blues pianist

Joe Willie "Pinetop" Perkins was an American blues pianist. He played with some of the most influential blues and rock-and-roll performers of his time and received numerous honors, including a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and induction into the Blues Hall of Fame.

James Cotton American blues harmonica player, singer and songwriter

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Larry Taylor American musician

Samuel Lawrence Taylor was an American bass guitarist, best known for his work as a member of Canned Heat from 1967. Before joining Canned Heat he had been a session bassist for The Monkees and Jerry Lee Lewis. He was the younger brother of Mel Taylor, long-time drummer of The Ventures.

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References

  1. 1 2 DeCurtis, Anthony (1992). Present Tense: Rock & Roll and Culture (4th ed.). Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press. ISBN   0822312654. His first venture, the Phillips label, issued only one known release, and it was one of the loudest, most overdriven, and distorted guitar stomps ever recorded, 'Boogie in the Park' by Memphis one-man-band Joe Hill Louis, who cranked his guitar while sitting and banging at a rudimentary drum kit.
  2. Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues: From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books. p. 138. ISBN   1-85868-255-X.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Dahl, Bill. "Joe Hill Louis | Biography". AllMusic . Retrieved 2015-09-08.
  4. 1 2 3 Harris, 1989, p. 337.
  5. Archived January 18, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  6. 1 2 3 Turner, 1985, p. 24.
  7. Miller, Jim (1980). The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll. New York: Rolling Stone. ISBN   0394513223 . Retrieved 5 July 2012. Black country bluesmen made raw, heavily amplified boogie records of their own, especially in Memphis, where guitarists like Joe Hill Louis, Willie Johnson (with the early Howlin' Wolf band) and Pat Hare (with Little Junior Parker) played driving rhythms and scorching, distorted solos that might be counted the distant ancestors of heavy metal.
  8. Turner, 1985, p. 37.
  9. Harris 1989, p. 337.

Bibliography