Smokestack Lightnin' Home Page -- The Blues Profile Page

Born July 8, 1908, Brinkley, Arkansas;
died February 4, 1975, Los Angeles, California

The Father of the Rhythm & Blues came out of the blues world of Brinkley, Arkansas, to play in Chick Webb's swing band from 1932 to 1938; he played alto sax and participated in comedy routines.

He began recording for Decca in 1938 with his own Tympany Five, remaining on the label until 1953. He had his first million-seller in 1944 with "Is You Is Or Is You Ain't Ma Baby?" -- having previously attracted attention with "Knock Me A Kiss" and "I'm Gonna Move To The Outskirts Of Town," the latter a classic Blues.

His second million-seller was "Caldonia (What Makes Your Big Head So Hard?)," followed in 1946 by two million-sellers, "Beware, Brother, Beware" and "Choo Choo Ch 'Boogie," the biggest seller of all.

In all these, he pursued a basic rhythm of Shuffle Boogie, later taken over by early Rock 'n' Roll. As he said, he "made the blues jump," and in so doing, influenced B. B. King, Chuck Berry, and Bill Haley.