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Papa George Lightfoot

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Biography

Thanks to a handful of terrific 1950s sides, the name of Papa Lightfoot was spoken in hushed and reverent tones by 1960s blues aficionados. Then, producer Steve LaVere tracked down the elusive harp master in Natchez, cutting an album for Vault in 1969 that announced to the world that Lightfoot was still wailing like a wildman on the mouth organ. Alas, his comeback was short-lived; he died in 1971 of respiratory failure and cardiac arrest.

Sessions for Peacock in 1949 (unissued), Sultan in 1950, and Aladdin in 1952 preceded an amazing 1954 date for Imperial in New Orleans that produced Lightfoot's "Mean Old Train," "Wine Women Whiskey" (comprising his lone single for the firm) and an astonishing "When the Saints Go Marching In." Lightfoot's habit of singing through his harp microphone further coarsened his already rough-hewn vocals, while his harp playing was simply shot through with endless invention. Singles for Savoy in 1955 and Excello the next year (the latter billed him as "Ole Sonny Boy") closed out Lightfoot's '50s recording activities, setting the stage for his regrettably brief comeback in 1969.

Born:

02 March 1924 in Natchez, MS

Genre
Years Active:

'50s, '60s

Influencers

Contemporaries