On this day in 1984, legendary blues singer Big Mama Thornton passed away


Dressed in a padded man's suit and straw Stetson, Big Mama Thornton grabs her harmonica as she lets loose at the Newport Jazz Festival at New York's Avery Fisher Hall, July 2, 1980 in a program devoted to the women who sing the blues. (AP Photo/Carlos Rene Perez)
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Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton was born on December 11, 1926, in Alabama. Raised in a religious household, she discovered her passion for music at a young age, singing in the church choir and learning to play the harmonica and drums.

Thornton’s musical journey took her to Houston, Texas, where she became a fixture in the local blues scene during the 1940s. Her deep voice and dynamic stage presence earned her the nickname “Big Mama.”

In 1953, Big Mama Thornton recorded her biggest hit, “Hound Dog,” later recorded by Elvis Presley.

Beyond her contributions to the blues, Big Mama Thornton’s work extended to rock ‘n’ roll, heavily influencing the rock stars of the 1950s and 1960s.

The legendary blues singer passed away on July 25, 1984, at the age of 57.

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