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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

She Got Me Walkin' - Lazy Bill Lucas

Lazy Bill Lucas (May 29, 1918 - December 11, 1982) was an American blues musician, who was part of the birth of the Chicago blues scene during the 1940s, 1950s and early 1960s, before taking his talents to Minneapolis, Minnesota, and becoming an important part of that city's blues history until his death.
Born to sharecroppers in Wynne, Arkansas, United States, Lucas's family was always looking for better living conditions and worked their way north to Southern Missouri, then to St. Louis in 1940 and Chicago the year after. As a youngster, he sang on the streets of Advance, Missouri, where the mostly white audience preferred hillbilly songs, but in St. Louis, he teamed up with blues singer Big Joe Williams and started singing for a black audience. Until 1946, Lucas played guitar on the streets, often at the side of Sonny Boy Williamson II. Later that year, he formed a trio with Willie Mabon and Earl Dranes, joined the Musicians Union, and enjoyed a two week gig at the Tuxedo Lounge. For several years, he played in various blues combos and played in various clubs, bars and street settings. During this time, he played with Johnny "Man" Young, Jo Jo Williams, Homesick James, Little Hudson, Snooky Pryor, and Little Walter. In 1950, Lucas switched from guitar to piano and worked as a sideman for various blues bands, and appeared on records by the Blue Rockers, Willie Foster, Homesick James and Snooky Pryor. In 1953, while leading the trio Lazy Bill and the Blue Rhythm, he secured a recording contract with Chance Records, who gave him one recording session. The company released one 78 rpm phonograph record – "She Got Me Walkin'" b/w "I Had a Dream".
As the 1950s progressed, work became harder to find, and during the 1960s, Lucas tried to get into the folk-blues scene but could not secure any contracts. From 1964 and well into the 1970s, Lucas straddled two careers: playing in various groups led by George "Mojo" Buford and playing solo or leading his own small groups. In 1970, he played a benefit show at the Guthrie Theatre organized by Minneapolis's black establishment to show the range and history of Afro-American music. The same year Lucas appeared at the Wisconsin Delta Blues Festival, and the Ann Arbor Blues Festival, with Jeff Titon and John Schrag. In the 1970s, Titon helped record and produce Lucas's material for Philo Records. In 1979, Lucas, who had played live on the radio in the 1960s, started hosting his own regular radio show, The Lazy Bill Lucas Show on KFAI in Minneapolis.

Lucas died of natural causes in Minneapolis in December 1982, at the age of 64.
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  1. The irrepressible Herr Wirz provides a very comprehensive discography. At the very end of which a nice early photo.