Lightnin' Hopkins

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About Lightnin' Hopkins

Legendary for his rhythmic fingerpicking, talking-style vocals, and improvisational songwriting, Sam “Lightnin’” Hopkins is a singular presence in Texas blues. Though he didn’t achieve widespread recognition until the ’60s, when albums like Lightnin’ Hopkins and Mojo Hand became required listening for folk revivalists, his career goes back to the early 20th century. Born in Centerville, TX, in 1912, Hopkins was soaking up the country blues of Blind Lemon Jefferson by age eight and playing parties alongside his cousin, Alger “Texas” Alexander, in his teens. His recordings in the ’40s and ’50s deftly bridge the archaic with the modern. Whereas the 1948 hit “Short Haired Woman” is rooted in pre-war blues, 1954’s “Lightnin’s Boogie” is every bit as rowdy as early rock ’n’ roll. Hopkins’ popularity remained unabated into the ’70s thanks in large part to his sold-out performances across the U.S. and Europe. His trademark mix of brilliant fret-work, charismatic storytelling, and sharp wit proved especially influential on then up-and-coming blues rockers Stevie Ray Vaughan and George Thorogood. Hopkins’ long career came to a close in 1982 when the blues icon succumbed to esophageal cancer at the age of 69.

Centerville, TX, United States
March 15, 1912
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