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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

SONGS FROM THE ROAD - LUTHER ALLISON



Luther Allison (August 17, 1939 – August 12, 1997) was an American blues guitarist. He was born in Widener, Arkansas and moved with his family, at age twelve, to Chicago in 1951. He taught himself guitar and began listening to blues extensively. Three years later he began hanging outside blues nightclubs with the hopes of being invited to perform. He played with Howlin' Wolf's band and backed James Cotton.

His big break came in 1957 when Muddy Waters invited Allison to the stage. He worked the club circuit throughout the late 1950s and early 1960s and recorded his first single in 1965. Allison was signed to the Delmark Records label in 1967 and released his debut album Love Me Mama the following year. A well-received set at the 1969 Ann Arbor Blues Festival resulted in his being asked to perform there each of the next three years. He also toured nationwide and, in 1972, was signed to Motown Records, the first and one of the few blues artists to do so.[3] By the mid 1970s he began touring Europe and moved to France in 1977. He would not return to the United States for another fifteen years. Allison was known for his concert performances, lengthy guitar solos and crowd walking with his Gibson Les Paul.



Allison's manager, and European agent, Thomas Ruf founded the label Ruf Records in 1994. Signing with Ruf Records, Allison launched a comeback in association with Alligator Records. Alligator founder, Bruce Iglauer, convinced Allison to return to the United States. The album Soul Fixin' Man was recorded and released in 1994, and Allison toured the U.S. and Canada. Allison won four W.C. Handy Awards in 1994. With the James Solberg Band backing him, non-stop touring and the release of Blue Streak (featuring song "Cherry Red Wine"), Allison continued to earn more Handys and gain wider recognition. Allison scored a host of Living Blues Awards and was featured on the cover pages of major blues publications.



He appeared at the 1995 San Francisco Blues Festival.



Allison covered "You Can't Always Get What You Want" for the 1997 Rolling Stones' tribute album, Paint it Blue: Songs of the Rolling Stones.



In the middle of his summer of 1997 tour, Allison checked into a hospital for dizziness and loss of coordination. It was discovered that he had a tumor on his lung that had metastasized to his brain. In and out of a coma, Allison died on August 12, 1997, five days before his 58th birthday, in Madison, Wisconsin.[2] His album Reckless had just been released. His son Bernard Allison, at one time a member of his band, is now a solo recording artist.
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