Country Singer — Lightnin’ Hopkins

Sam “Lightnin´” Hopkins (15 March 1912 – 30 January 1982) was born in Houston, Texas, United States blues guitarist and singer.

Early years

Born in Centerville, Texas, Hopkins passion for blues ignited at the age of 8 when she met Blind Lemon Jefferson at a picnic of the Church in Buffalo, Texas. That day, Hopkins felt that the blues was “within him” and began to learn of his distant cousin, country Alger older Alexander blues singer. In the middle of the 1930s, Hopkins was sent to the Texas County prison for an unknown crime. In late 1930 Hopkins moved to Houston with Alexander in an unsuccessful attempt to succeed in the music scene there. At the beginning of the 1940s had returned to Centerville to work as a farmer.


Hopkins made a second attempt in Houston in 1946. While singing at Downlin Street, Houston’s Third Ward (who would become his base camp) was discovered by Lola Anne Cullum Los Angeles Aladdin Records company. She convinced Hopkins to travel to L.A. to accompany the pianist Wilson Smith. The duo recorded 12 songs in its first session in 1946. An Aladdin Records Executive decided that the couple needed more dynamism in their names, and baptized as “Lightnin´” Hopkins and Wilson as “Thunder”.

Hopkins recorded more pieces for Aladdin in 1948, but soon felt nostalgia for their place of origin. She returned to Houston and began recording for the label Gold Star Records. During the late 1940s and 1950s, Hopkins hardly acted outside of Texas. However, recorded abundant material. Estimated recorded between 800 and 1000 songs from his career. Often played in clubs in Houston and surrounding areas, especially in Dowling Street, where it was discovered for the first time. He recorded his “T-Model Blues” and “Tim Moore´s Farm” successes in Studio SugarHill in Houston. Since the mid-1950s until the end of the Decade, abundant production of quality recordings he had gained a large number of followers among African Americans and music fans blues.


In 1959, folklorist Mack McCormick are brought into contact with Hopkins hoping that atrajese the attention of a wider public, taking advantage of the folk revival. McCormick presented to Hopkins to small audiences, first in Houston and then in California. Hopkins debuted at Carnegie Hall on October 14, 1960, along with Joan Baez and Pete Seeger, interpreting the spiritual Oh, Mary Don´t You Weep. In 1960, signed a contract with Tradition Records. This followed a series of sound recordings, including you his classic “Mojo Hand” in 1960.

In the early 1960s, the reputation of Hopkins as bluesman had consolidated; had finally achieved success and recognition. In 1968, he recorded the album Free From Patterns, accompanied by the rhythm of the psychedelic rock band section The 13th Floor Elevators. In the 1960s and 1970s, Hopkins released one and sometimes up to two discs per year, and toured, acting at folk festivals, folk clubs and college campuses in the United States and other countries. He traveled widely United States and overcame his fear of flying to join the American Blues Folk Festival in 1964.

Filmmaker Les Blank vividly captured the informal style of Hopkins in his acclaimed documentary 1967 The Blues According’ To Lightnin’ Hopkins.

He died of cancer in Houston, in 1982.

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