Smokestack Lightnin' Home Page

Major Works

  • 1985- "Bad Situation"
  • 1990- "Can't Let Go"
  • 1993- "I Am the Blues"
  • 1995- "Ramblin Man"

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Lester Kinsey: A Biography
By Monta Mason (SHS)

Lester Kinsey is one of today's great blues legends. Lester Kinsey was born on March 18, 1927 near Pleasant Grove, Mississippi.  Lester was a great vocalist, harmonica and guitar player. Lester played many styles of blues,  but his best were Chicago Blues, and Modern Electric Blues ("Big Daddy Kinsey").  He faced  many problems in his life and his music career, but his hardest battle was his battle with prostate cancer.Monta Mason, SHS researcher

Kinsey first played gospel music at the age of six  with the guitar.   When he was older, he  played at parties in the Delta before moving to  Gary, Indiana, at the age of seventeen  in 1944.  He immediately began working in the city's steel mill (Stilles).   His father was the pastor of Gary's Chase Street Church of God in Christ (Stantelli 241), and his father did not like Lester  playing the blues (Stilles).   Lester Kinsey married Christine McNeal in 1946.    After a stint in the service  Kinsey  returned to Gary to work in the steel mill (Stantelli 241) .  Settling down to raise a family,  Kinsey put his musical career on hold for several year (Stilles) .  He stayed away from his guitar until the late 60's (Stantelli 241) when he began playing harmonica with a group called The Soul Brothers.   Lester Kinsey first signed with Alligator.com" target="_blank">Alligator records, but  later he signed with Blind Pig Records (Stantelli 241).

He had three sons: Donald Kinsey was born on May 12,1953.  Ralph Kinsey was born April 26, 1952.  Kenneth Kinsey was born on January 21, 1963. Kinsey started Donald playing the guitar at the age of  four, and Ralph played the drums at six.  Kinsey's sons Donald and Lester KinseyRalph were only twelve and thirteen; but, respected for their musical ability,  they joined up with Big Daddy Kinsey and Baby Boy.  At first, the group was  named  Big Daddy Kinsey and His Fabulous Sons when Ralph and Kenneth joined the band. Then they became known as Big Daddy Kinsey and the Kinsey Report in 1984.   Lester  was the main star as a powerful slide guitarist and harp player.  Pinetop Perkins was the pianist.

Kinsey had worked clubs and lounges with non-family musicians in the late 70's  and  early 80's (Stantelli 241) .  Donald had joined Albert King's road band and later joined reggae superstars Bob Marley and The Wailer (Stilles) . However, the family band in 1984 reunited and formed The Kinsey Report (Stantelli 241) .  They signed with Rooster Blues.  In 1985 they signed again with  Alligator Records (Larkin 2323)  for whom they produced.

Sadly, on April 3, 2001 Lester Kinsey  died at seventy years of age.  His wife had died in 1995.   He had started a charter bus company, --Kenites Coach Lines-- and took groups to the South  for casino trips (Stantelli 241).  Kinsey died from prostate cancer (Harris) at Methodist Hospital Northlake Campus, in Gary, Indiana.  He survived by a brother named Michael, twelve grandchildren, and six great grandchildren. His funeral was held at Allen funeral home at the Love Feast Church of God in Christ (Janega).  After his death, the band The Kinsey Report made their tribute album, called Tribute to Hubby (Larkin 2323)