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 Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton

Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton

Birth
Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama, USA
Death 25 Jul 1984 (aged 57)
Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Burial Inglewood, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Plot 'M' Plot, Lot 2486-B
Memorial ID 3958 · View Source
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Musician. Born in Montgomery, Alabama, she was a blues singer and songwriter. She began career in the 1940s, became well known and as the opening act the New York Apollo in 1952, was nicknamed "Big Mama" for her vocal tension and coarseness. Signed to Peacock Records, she sang the original version of the song "Hound Dog", with the B-side "They Call Me Big Mama" and the single sold almost two million copies. She received a lifetime total of $500 for the song, even though Elvis Presley went on to make "Hound Dog" a rock-and-roll classic in 1956. She also wrote and recorded "Ball and Chain" which became a hit for her. The song was recorded by Janis Joplin and it became a huge success in the 1960s. "Big Mama" toured with shows in America, Europe and played the Monterey Jazz Festival throughout the 1960s and 1970s. She died of a heart attack in Los Angeles, California, and was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame the same year of her death.

Bio by: John "J-Cat" Griffith


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 10 Nov 1998
  • Find A Grave Memorial 3958
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton (11 Dec 1926–25 Jul 1984), Find A Grave Memorial no. 3958, citing Inglewood Park Cemetery, Inglewood, Los Angeles County, California, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .