Ramblin' Thomas

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Ramblin' Thomas
Birth name Willard Thomas
Born c. 1902
Logansport, Louisiana, United States
Died c. 1945
Memphis, Tennessee, United States
Genres Texas blues, country blues [1]
Occupation(s) Singer, guitarist, songwriter
Instruments Vocals, guitar
Labels Paramount, Victor
Associated acts Jesse Thomas

Willard Thomas, better known as Ramblin' Thomas (c. 1902c. 1945), [1] [2] was an American country blues singer, guitarist and songwriter. [3] He is best remembered for his slide guitar playing and for several recordings he made in the late 1920s and early 1930s. [4] Blues scholars seem undecided if his nickname referred to his style of playing or to his itinerant nature. [1] [5] He was the brother of the blues musician Jesse Thomas.

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's 3.9 million square miles. 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 largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Country blues is acoustic, mainly guitar-driven forms of the blues, that mixes blues elements with characteristics of country and folk. After blues' birth in the Southern United States, it quickly spread throughout the country, giving birth to a host of regional styles. These include Memphis, Detroit, Chicago, Texas, Piedmont, Louisiana, West Coast, St. Louis, East Coast, Swamp, New Orleans, Delta, Hill country and Kansas City blues.

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, gazal and popular music styles such as pop, rock, electronic dance music and filmi.



Thomas was born in Logansport, Louisiana, one of nine children in his family. His father played the fiddle, and Willard and his brothers Joe L. and Jesse learned to play the guitar, with Willard particularly practicing slide guitar techniques. [1]

Logansport, Louisiana Town in Louisiana, United States

Logansport is a town in western DeSoto Parish adjacent to the Sabine River in western Louisiana, United States. The population was 1,555 at the 2010 census. It is part of the Shreveport–Bossier City Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Fiddle musical instrument

Fiddling refers to the act of playing the fiddle, and fiddlers are musicians that play it. A fiddle is a bowed string musical instrument, most often a violin. It is a colloquial term for the violin, used by players in all genres including classical music. Although violins and fiddles are essentially synonymous, the style of the music played may determine specific construction differences between fiddles and classical violins. For example, fiddles may optionally be set up with a bridge with a flatter arch to reduce the range of bow-arm motion needed for techniques such as the double shuffle, a form of bariolage involving rapid alternation between pairs of adjacent strings. To produce a "brighter" tone, compared to the deeper tones of gut or synthetic core strings, fiddlers often use steel strings. The fiddle is part of many traditional (folk) styles, which are typically aural traditions—taught 'by ear' rather than via written music.

Jesse "Babyface" Thomas was an American Texas blues guitarist and singer. Known at different times as "Baby Face" or "Mule", and occasionally billed as "The Blues Troubadour", his career performing blues music extended eight decades.

Thomas relocated to Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas, in the late 1920s and was influenced by the playing of Lonnie Johnson, Blind Lemon Jefferson and Blind Blake. [2] He performed in San Antonio, Oklahoma and possibly St. Louis, Missouri, in his subsequent travels. [1] He recorded in Dallas and Chicago between 1928 and 1932, for Paramount Records and Victor Records. [6] [7] His playing is said to have influenced Black Ace and Robert Johnson. [2]

Lonnie Johnson (musician) musician from the USA

Alonzo "Lonnie" Johnson was an American blues and jazz singer, guitarist, violinist and songwriter. He was a pioneer of jazz guitar and jazz violin and is recognized as the first to play an electrically amplified violin.

Blind Lemon Jefferson American blues singer and guitarist

Lemon Henry "Blind Lemon" Jefferson was an American blues and gospel singer, songwriter, and musician. He was one of the most popular blues singers of the 1920s and has been called the "Father of the Texas Blues".

Blind Blake American blues and ragtime singer and guitarist

Arthur "Blind" Blake was an American blues and ragtime singer and guitarist. He is known for numerous recordings he made for Paramount Records between 1926 and 1932.

Thomas reportedly died of tuberculosis in 1944 or 1945 in Memphis, Tennessee.

Tuberculosis Infectious disease caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis

Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease usually caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) bacteria. Tuberculosis generally affects the lungs, but can also affect other parts of the body. Most infections do not have symptoms, in which case it is known as latent tuberculosis. About 10% of latent infections progress to active disease which, if left untreated, kills about half of those affected. The classic symptoms of active TB are a chronic cough with blood-containing sputum, fever, night sweats, and weight loss. It was historically called "consumption" due to the weight loss. Infection of other organs can cause a wide range of symptoms.

Memphis, Tennessee City in Tennessee, United States

Memphis is a city located along the Mississippi River in southwestern Shelby County, Tennessee, United States. The 2017 city population was 652,236, making Memphis the largest city on the Mississippi River, second-largest city in Tennessee, as well as the 25th largest city in the United States. Greater Memphis is the 42nd largest metropolitan area in the United States, with a population of 1,348,260 in 2017. The city is the anchor of West Tennessee and the greater Mid-South region, which includes portions of neighboring Arkansas and Mississippi. Memphis is the seat of Shelby County, the most populous county in Tennessee. As one of the most historic and cultural cities of the southern United States, the city features a wide variety of landscapes and distinct neighborhoods.

Compilations of his work have been released on CD by various record companies, including Document Records, in addition to LPs previously issued by Heritage, Biograph, and Matchbox Records.

A compilation album comprises tracks, which may be previously released or unreleased, usually from several separate recordings by either one or several performers. If by one artist, then generally the tracks were not originally intended for release together as a single work, but may be collected together as a greatest hits album or box set. If from several performers, there may be a theme, topic, time period, or genre which links the tracks, or they may have been intended for release as a single work—such as a tribute album. When the tracks are by the same recording artist, the album may be referred to as a retrospective album or an anthology.

Document Records is an independent record label in Scotland that specializes in reissuing vintage blues and jazz. The company has been recognised by The Blues Foundation, being honoured with a Keeping the Blues Alive Award. Document Records is the only UK-based recipient of the award in 2018.

Biograph Records is a record label founded in 1967 by Arnold S. Caplin that specialized in early American ragtime, jazz, and blues music. Its reissues includes Bunny Berigan, Bing Crosby, The California Ramblers, Ruth Etting, Benny Goodman, Earl Hines, George Lewis, Ted Lewis, Jimmy O'Bryant, Jabbo Smith, Jack Teagarden, Ethel Waters, and Clarence Williams. The company's label are Melodeon, Center, Regal and Dawn.


His known recorded songs are the following:

See also

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Chadbourne, Eugene. "Ramblin' Thomas: Biography". Allmusic.com. Retrieved January 30, 2010.
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  3. Du Noyer, Paul (2003). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Music. Fulham, London: Flame Tree Publishing. p. 181. ISBN   1-904041-96-5.
  4. Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues: From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books. p. 110. ISBN   1-85868-255-X.
  5. Evans, David (2008). Ramblin' on My Mind: New Perspectives on the Blues. Champaign: University of Illinois Press. p. 195. ISBN   978-0-252-03203-5.
  6. 1 2 "Ramblin' Thomas Discography". Wirz.de. Retrieved 2014-01-28.
  7. "Blues & Gospel – Sonny Terry – Ramblin' Thomas". Rootsandrhythm.com. 1952-08-15. Retrieved 2014-01-28.
  8. Chadbourne, Eugene. "Ramblin' Thomas, Ramblin' Mind Blues: Chicago Blues, 1928: Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic.com. Retrieved 2014-01-28.
  9. "Ramblin' Thomas, 1928–1932: Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic.com. Retrieved 2014-01-28.