Lightning Hopkins

I had the one thing you need to be a blues singer, I was born with the blues.” – Lightnin’ Hopkins

Lightning Hopkins is the Texas Blues. Lightning was born as Sam John Hopkins on March 15, 1912, death – January 30, 1982).

Texas Blues Legend

The life of lightning Hopkins is interesting because of the width of his career and the  fact he lived the blues like a troubadour. He started playing in the twenties with Blues greats like Blind Lemon Jefferson and Texas Alexander.

Blues Guitar style

His style contains electric and acoustic blues guitar, for which he is appreciated widely among blues guitarist. What I consider as the magic of his guitar playing is the fact het makes everything look simple. This song is the perfect example, it was featured in Les Blanks ‘The Blues According to Lightnin’ Hopkins’.

What does the Blues mean

About his guitar style he indicates: “I play it from my heart and soul…The blues is something that the people can’t get rid of. And if you ever have the blues, remember what I tell you. You’re gonna hear this in your heart… slowly rough and delicately brutal, like stones being rattled in a can of ribbon cane syrup.”  Mark Humphreys 

Lightnin’ Hopkins is often called a Blues troubadour, because he always had his guitar with him. Hopkins was scared people would bust it. And so he played and played. It was very easy to play on a Friday or Saturday evening. He recalls in his interview wuth Paul Oliver

“Every one of those farms gave Friday and Saturday night dances…All you had to do was to rap on your guitar and they’d pat and holler. Ol’ sister would shout, ‘You swing mine and I’ll swing yours!”

Was Lightning Hopkins in prison?

Old Lightnin’ Hopkins worked during the twenties with Texas Alexander his cousin, there is some controversy about the time their partnership was on hold during the thirties. He would be in Houston’s Country Prison Farm. The Texas prison administration has no record of Any lightnin’ Sam Hopkins. The Delta Blues Blog sought this out. It is a very nice article by the way!

Blues records

Some cool old recording of Lightnin´ Hopkins are collected on the album Early Recordings, released in 1975. Songs like ´Blue Bird Blues´, ´Mad With You´, ´Automobile blues´ and ´Seems Funny Baby´, give you a good impression of his style.

The thing about Texas blues, for what I´ve read is that is lyrically more direct, harder than other more commercial bluessongs, subscribing the hard life better than other blues musicians.

Blues Quote 

“Lightnin’ Hopkins was perhaps the most inventive and emotional blues singer I ever met…Throughout the years I have heard many other great blues singers, but Lightnin’ Hopkins has remained my favorite. I never tire of his records, especially his early ones, made before I ever met him, and each performance is an emotional and memorable human experience.”

– Chris Strachwitz, Arhoolie Records

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *