Johnny Copeland Biography

27 March 1937, Haynesville, Louisiana, USA, d. 4 July 1997, New York, USA. A former boxer, Johnny ‘Clyde’ Copeland was active as a guitarist and singer on the Houston blues scene during the late 50s and 60s. While there is no doubt as to Copeland’s blues credentials, throughout the 60s in particular, he recorded a wide body of genuinely top-drawer soul. Although all of his 60s soul tracks appear to have been recorded in Houston (from the 70s onwards, some were cut in Los Angeles), Copeland was a ‘label-hopper’ supreme. He made numerous singles for such labels as Mercury Records (‘All Boy’ 1958), Paradise, Golden Eagle (‘Down On Bending Knees’) and Crazy Cajun. His version of Bob Dylan’s ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’ was issued by New York-based Wand Records in 1965 and there were later albums for Atlantic Records. The renewed interest in the blues during the 70s brought a recording contract with Rounder Records, and Copeland’s Nappy Brown -influenced vocals were heard to good effect on a 1977 album with Arthur Blythe (saxophone). He joined the festival circuit, and a rousing performance at Chicago in 1984 with fellow Texan guitarists Albert Collins and Clarence ‘Gatemouth’ Brown led to the Grammy-winning Showdown! (1985). This collaboration with Collins and Robert Cray included the Copeland originals ‘Lion’s Den’ and ‘Bring Your Fine Self On Home’. Later albums were released by Rounder and included Bringin’ It All Back Home, recorded in Africa. In 1995 he underwent major surgery following serious heart problems, and a benefit was held for him shortly before his death in 1997.

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

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