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 Katie Webster

Katie Webster

Original Name Kathryn Jewell Thorne
Birth
Houston, Harris County, Texas, USA
Death 5 Sep 1999 (aged 63)
League City, Galveston County, Texas, USA
Burial Webster, Harris County, Texas, USA
Memorial ID 6717 · View Source
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Entertainer. The woman who would become the Swamp Boogie Queen was born Kathryn Jewel Thorne on January 11, 1936 in Houston, Texas. Her parents taught her piano while she was a child with the warning that she was to play only gospel or classical music, she was to play none of that devil music, no sir, not their little girl. Katie did what all kids do in this situation: she listened to that devil music at night with an old radio she had smuggled in the house and hid under her pillow. Every chance she got, she would hammer out the music she had listened to on any piano she could find, developing her own style of boogie-woogie, trying to get everything she liked into every song she would wail. Katie had it and she wasn't ashamed to show it, either - just not when her folks were around. When she was a teenager, her parents moved to California and Katie chose to live with other family members in southern Louisiana. Now she had permission to play out in the open and she became well-known in the area for her loud piano-banging style; by the time she was fifteen she was one of the most requested studio musicians in the area. She played on hundreds of recordings from the 1950s through the 1960s, with such luminaries as Guitar Junior, Lightnin Slim and Lazy Lester. Her big break came in 1964 when Otis Redding heard her playing in a nightclub with her group The Uptighters and immediately hired her for his band. She did her first nationwide tour with Redding as an opening act and can be heard blasting the keys on his acclaimed album Live At The Whiskey A-Go-Go. She toured with him for years until her pregnancy kept her from performing on the tour in 1967; the tour she missed was the one resulting in the death of Redding when his plane crashed. The loss of her friend and the need to care for her ailing parents caused her to quit the business until the early 1980s when blues and rockabilly was rediscovered in Europe and the demand for performers was exploding. She toured Europe and became a club legend there, returning over thirty times to play for sold-out crowds. Encouraged by her success, she began performing at blues festivals in America and dazzled huge crowds of fans time and time again. In 1988 she signed with Alligator Records, and with assistance from artists like Bonnie Raitt and Robert Cray, released her debut album, The Swamp Boogie Queen. It was an international hit. She would follow up over the next several years with Two-Fisted Mama! and No Foolin, cementing her status as a boogie-woogie legend. In 1993, while on tour in Greece, Katie had a stroke which restricted the use of her left hand and took almost all of her eyesight. In spite of everything she kept going, and although she booked fewer perfomances, she continued to deliver her signature sound by relying on her right hand to play the piano and showcasing her stellar voice. Eventually, Katie slowed down and played less; she just couldn't perform with the fire she used to anymore and she felt she would be cheating the audience unless she could go full-bore. She remained a fan favorite both in the States and in Europe until her death from heart failure on September 9, 1999.

Bio by: Lysa


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 18 Oct 1999
  • Find A Grave Memorial 6717
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Katie Webster (9 Jan 1936–5 Sep 1999), Find A Grave Memorial no. 6717, citing Forest Park East Cemetery, Webster, Harris County, Texas, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .