Lowell Fulson Biography

31 March 1921, Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA, d. 6 March 1999, Los Angeles, California, USA. Blues guitarist Lowell Fulson (whose surname was often mistakenly misspelled Fulsom) recorded steadily from 1946 onwards, and performed regularly on the US and European club circuits into the 90s. One of the founding fathers of West Coast blues, Fulson blended the rural blues of his home state with the modern sounds of urban California. Fulson was raised in Atoka, close to the Texas border, and began his career performing with string bands and backing country blues vocalist Alger ‘Texas’ Alexander in the late 30s. During World War II he was stationed in Oakland, California, where he met record producer Bob Geddins. Following his discharge from the US Navy, Fulson recorded for several labels under the direction of Geddins, including Big Town, Down Town, Gilt Edge and Trilon. His first hit came in 1950 on the Swing Time label when he reworked Memphis Slim’s ‘Nobody Loves Me’ into ‘Every Day I Have The Blues’. At that time his 12-piece orchestra included a young Ray Charles on piano and tenor saxophonist Stanley Turrentine.

Fulson recorded for Aladdin Records in 1953 and then switched to Checker Records, a subsidiary of Chess Records, the following year. His first side for that company, ‘Reconsider Baby’, was later covered by Elvis Presley and became a blues standard. Fulson stayed with Checker Records into the early 60s and then moved to Kent Records, who changed the spelling of his name. Now recording in a more contemporary and commercial soul-blues vein, Fulson’s biggest hits for Kent were ‘Black Nights’ in 1965 and ‘Tramp’ a year later. The latter song, co-written with Jimmy McCracklin, was later a duet hit for Otis Redding and Carla Thomas. In 1968 Fulson signed with Jewel Records and then recorded for a succession of small labels including Crazy Cajun and Granite. He reappeared on the international circuit in the mid-80s, his sound and voice seemingly undiminished by the passing years. By the early 90s his early work often appeared on reissues, while much of his new material was only released on minor labels, such as France’s Blue Phoenix Records. However, in 1993 the artist received five W.C. Handy Awards, and was inducted into the Blues Hall Of Fame, both for himself and his song, ‘Reconsider Baby’. He continued working up until 1997. An excellent remastered and expanded version of I’ve Got The Blues was released in 2001.


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


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