Irma Thomas Biography

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Irma Lee, 18 February 1941, Ponchatoula, Louisiana, USA. The ‘Soul Queen Of New Orleans’ was discovered in 1958 by band leader Tommy Ridgley. Her early records were popular locally, but an R&B hit came in 1960 with ‘(You Can Have My Husband But Please) Don’t Mess With My Man’. The following year Thomas rejoined producer/writer Allen Toussaint, with whom she had worked on her first recordings. This reunion resulted in two of Irma’s finest singles, ‘It’s Raining’ and ‘Ruler Of My Heart’ (1962), the latter a prototype for Otis Redding’s ‘Pain In My Heart’. After signing with the Imperial Records label in 1963 Thomas recorded ‘Wish Someone Would Care’ (1964), which reached the US Top 20, while the follow-up, ‘Anyone Who Knows What Love Is (Will Understand)’, also entered the national chart. This single is better recalled for its b-side, ‘Time Is On My Side’, which was successfully covered by the Rolling Stones.

Thomas continued to record excellent singles without achieving due commercial success. Her final hit was a magnificent interpretation of ‘Good To Me’ (1968), recorded at Muscle Shoals and issued on Chess Records. She then moved to Canyon, Roker and Cotillion, before appearing on Swamp Dogg’s short-lived Fungus label with In Between Tears (1973). Thomas continued to record fine albums for the Rounder Records label throughout the 80s and 90s and she remains a highly popular live attraction. Her career has continued into the new millennium with regular studio albums and a planned biography.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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