Skip Navigation Links
Compact Discs

» Lightnin' Hopkins

Lightnin' Hopkins
Born: March 15, 1912 in Centerville, Te
Died: January 30, 1982 in Houston, Te
Active: '30s-'70s Major
Styles: Blues Revival, Acoustic Texas Blues, Texas Blues
Instrument: Guitar Representative
Albums: "The Complete Aladdin Recordings", "Mojo
Hand: The Anthology", "Blues
Masters: The Very Best of Lightnin' Hopkins" Representative
Songs: "Mojo Hand", "Baby Please Don't Go", "Trouble in Mind"

UPC Type Title
788065770525 CD 1946-51
788065717223 CD Acoustic Years
894231312823 CD Autobiography in Blues
799582200327 CD Best of Blues
096297049921 CD Best of Lightnin' Himself
090431637326 CD Blues
030206175721 CD Blues From Dowling Street
894231269028 CD Blues Hoot
025218050623 CD Blues in My Bottle
029667193023 (i) CD Blues in My Bottle/Walkin' This Road by Myself
029667129015 (i) Vinyl Blues in My Bottle
081227986025 CD Blues Masters-Very Best of
4995879936542 (i) CD Blues: Complete Sittin in with/Jax Recordings 1
646315331028 CD Bring Me My Shotgun
741157026818 Vinyl Bring Me My Shotgun-the Essential Coll
5050457011222 (i) CD Cadillac Blues
894231415524 CD California Mudslide (and Earthquake)
029667154628 (i) CD California Mudslide (& Earthquake)
4995879175880 (i) CD California Mudslide
4995879042984 (i) CD Coffee House Blues (& Brownie McGhee) (Mini LP Sle
894231159329 CD Country Blues
600491100328 CD Country Blues
8712273470283 (i) CD Cousins
4995879936559 (i) CD Dirty Blues: Complete Sittin/Jax Recordings 2
5060143493478 (i) CD Dirty House Blues
5060143491559 (i) Vinyl Dirty House Blues
025218240222 CD Double Blues
090431514320 CD Drinkin' in the Blues
4995879238912 (i) CD Electric Lightnin'
693723977621 (i) CD Essential Blue Archive-No
766126411921 (i) CD Feel So Bad-Essential Recordin
894231360725 CD Fugitive Blues-From the Archives
894231109027 CD Greatest Hits 1959-1965
886972379821 CD Hello Central-Best of Lightnin' Hopkins
090431512128 CD Herald Recordings No. 1
090431518120 CD Herald Recordings No. 2
805520021647 (i) CD Houston Hurricane
029667140928 (i) CD How Many More Years I Got
4995879936528 (i) CD In Berkeley (Bonus Track) (Jpn) (Jmlp)
029667169721 (i) CD Jake Head Boogie
824046512125 CD King of the Texas Blues
025218054829 CD Last Night Blues
8427328501095 CD Legendary Poet of the Blues
093074001929 CD Lightnin' Hopkins
077779684328 CD Lightnin' Hopkins: Complete Aladdin Recordings
708857901029 CD Lightnin' in New York
096297034026 CD Lightnin' Joel & John Henry
096297033722 CD Lightnin' Hopkins: Vol. 2-Gold Star Sessions
788065779023 CD Lightnin' Hopkins: Vol. 2-Lightning Special-Comple..
025218440622 CD Lightnin' Hopkins: Complete Prestige/Bluesville R
714298560923 CD Lightnin' Hopkins: Vol. 1-1950-61-Remaining Title
096297033029 CD Lightnin' Hopkins: Vol. 1-Gold Star Sessions
090431140925 CD Lightnin' Hopkins Meets Buster Brown
894231244520 CD Lightnin' Strikes
029667041225 (i) CD Lightnin' Hopkins/His Blues
4995879081792 (i) CD Lightnin' Hopkins: Vol. 2-Best Blues Masters
4580113670957 (i) CD Lightnin' Hopkins: Vol. 2-Great Blues Masters
4995879237830 (i) CD Lightnin' & the Blues (Mini LP Sleeve)
5060149620137 Vinyl Lightnin' in New York
646315201116 Vinyl Lightnin' Sam Hopkins
093652333916 Vinyl Lightnin' Strikes
889397311223 Vinyl Lightnin Hopkins on Stage
889397311445 Vinyl Lightnin Strikes
096297039021 CD Lightnin'!
803415113620 (i) CD Lightning Strikes
068944915125 CD Lightnin's Boogie
015707971522 CD Live at Newport
090204942466 (i) CD Live at Newport
741157155518 Vinyl Live at the Bird Lounge
090341520428 CD Lost Texas Tapes 2
090431520321 CD Lost Texas Tapes No. 1
090431520727 CD Lost Texas Tapes No. 5
090431514528 CD Mama & Papa Hopkins
016351051394 DVD Masters of the Country Blues
090431511121 CD Mojo Hand
8013252385322 CD My Baby's Gone
090431514627 CD Nothin' But the Blues
090204625635 CD Pepper Cake Presents
096297040324 CD Po' Lightnin'
4995879936535 (i) CD Po Lightnin
025218580823 CD Prestige Profiles
090431514429 CD Prison Blues
030206197921 CD Rarites & Gems
024266113625 CD Santa Fe Blues
636551002325 CD Short Haired Woman
4995879237625 (i) CD Sings the Blues (Mini LP Sleeve)
025218056328 CD Swarthmore Concert
8013252385223 CD Talk of the Town
096297030226 CD Texas Blues
646315203417 Vinyl Texas Blues Man
600491108423 CD Tradition Masters : Lightnin' Hopkins
708535170426 CD Very Best of Lightnin' Hop the
030206190922 CD Very Best of Lightnin' Hopkins
888072344686 Vinyl Walkin' This Road by Myself
029667125611 (i) Vinyl Walkin' This Road by Myself

Biography: Sam Hopkins was a Texas country bluesman of the highest caliber whose career began in the 1920s and stretched all the way into the 1980s. Along the way, Hopkins watched the genre change remarkably, but he never appreciably altered his mournful Lone Star sound, which translated onto both acoustic and electric guitar. Hopkins' nimble dexterity made intricate boogie riffs seem easy, and his fascinating penchant for improvising lyrics to fit whatever situation might arise made him a beloved blues troubadour.

Hopkins' brothers John Henry and Joel were also talented bluesmen, but it was Sam who became a star. In 1920, he met the legendary Blind Lemon Jefferson at a social function, and even got a chance to play with him. Later, Hopkins served as Jefferson's guide. In his teens, Hopkins began working with another pre-war great, singer Texas Alexander, who was his cousin. A mid-'30s stretch in Houston's County Prison Farm for the young guitarist interrupted their partnership for a time, but when he was freed, Hopkins hooked back up with the older bluesman.

The pair was dishing out their lowdown brand of blues in Houston's Third Ward in 1946 when talent scout Lola Anne Cullum came across them. She had already engineered a pact with Los Angeles-based Aladdin Records for another of her charges, pianist Amos Milburn, and Cullum saw the same sort of opportunity within Hopkins' dusty country blues. Alexander wasn't part of the deal; instead, Cullum paired Hopkins with pianist Wilson "Thunder" Smith, sensibly re-christened the guitarist "Lightnin'," and presto! Hopkins was very soon an Aladdin recording artist.

"Katie May," cut on November 9, 1946, in L.A. with Smith lending a hand on the 88s, was Lightnin' Hopkins' first regional seller of note. He recorded prolifically for Aladdin in both L.A. and Houston into 1948, scoring a national R&B hit for the firm with his "Shotgun Blues." "Short Haired Woman," "Abilene," and "Big Mama Jump," among many Aladdin gems, were evocative Texas blues rooted in an earlier era.

A load of other labels recorded the wily Hopkins after that, both in a solo context and with a small rhythm section: Modern/RPM (his uncompromising "Tim Moore's Farm" was an R&B hit in 1949); Gold Star (where he hit with "T-Model Blues" that same year); Sittin' in With ("Give Me Central 209" and "Coffee Blues" were national chart entries in 1952) and its Jax subsidiary; the major labels Mercury and Decca; and, in 1954, a remarkable batch of sides for Herald where Hopkins played blistering electric guitar on a series of blasting rockers ("Lightnin's Boogie," "Lightnin's Special," and the amazing "Hopkins' Sky Hop") in front of drummer Ben Turner and bassist Donald Cooks (who must have had bleeding fingers, so torrid were some of the tempos).

But Hopkins' style was apparently too rustic and old-fashioned for the new generation of rock & roll enthusiasts (they should have checked out "Hopkins' Sky Hop"). He was back on the Houston scene by 1959, largely forgotten. Fortunately, folklorist Mack McCormick rediscovered the guitarist, who was dusted off and presented as a folk-blues artist; a role that Hopkins was born to play. Pioneering musicologist Sam Charters produced Hopkins in a solo context for Folkways Records that same year, cutting an entire LP, Lightnin' Hopkins, in Hopkins' tiny apartment (on a borrowed guitar). The results helped introduced his music to an entirely new audience.

Lightnin' Hopkins went from gigging at back-alley gin joints to starring at collegiate coffeehouses, appearing on TV programs, and touring Europe to boot. His once-flagging recording career went right through the roof, with albums for World Pacific; Vee-Jay; Bluesville; Bobby Robinson's Fire label (where he cut his classic "Mojo Hand" in 1960); Candid; Arhoolie; Prestige; Verve; and, in 1965, the first of several LPs for Stan Lewis' Shreveport-based Jewel logo.

Hopkins generally demanded full payment before he'd deign to sit down and record, and seldom indulged a producer's desire for more than one take of any song. His singular sense of country time befuddled more than a few unseasoned musicians; from the 1960s on, his solo work is usually preferable to band-backed material.

Filmmaker Les Blank captured the Texas troubadour's informal lifestyle most vividly in his acclaimed 1967 documentary, The Blues Accordin' to Lightnin' Hopkins. As one of the last great country bluesmen, Hopkins was a fascinating figure who bridged the gap between rural and urban styles. ~ Bill Dahl, Rovi