HEY LOCO FANS – Happy birthday to blues guitarist Little Son Joe, this day in 1900. He was born Ernest Lawlars in Hughes, Arkansas, and not much is known of his early life.

From around 1931 to 1936 he worked around Memphis with Robert Wilkins, who he accompanied on a recording session in 1935. The same session also produced Lawlers’s first recorded side, under the name Son Joe, although this was not issued.

He teamed up with Memphis Minnie in the late 30s, replacing her previous husband and partner, Joe McCoy.

By 1939, Lawlars was working with, and married to, Memphis Minnie in Chicago. Their first recording session together, for Vocalion in February 1939, produced six released sides by Lawlers as well as four under Minnie’s name.

Lawlars recorded in his own right under the name Little Son Joe, but most of his recorded work was as an accompanist to Minnie. In 1942 he had a hit with “Black Rat Swing”, billed as “Mr. Memphis Minnie”.

As their popularity in Chicago waned, they settled back in Memphis and Lawlars mostly retired from music because of ill-health. Although after moving to Memphis in 1958 he and Minnie had a regular Saturday night gig at the Red Light in Millington, Tennessee. He also played drums on Minnie’s final recording session in 1959.

Lawlars died in John Gaston Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee, in November 1961 from heart disease, and was buried in the New Hope Cemetery in Walls, Mississippi.

Big Walter Horton – Blues Harp Shuffle

Willie Dixon said, “”Big Walter is the best harmonica player I ever heard.”

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