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Lightnin' Hopkins

Blues

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Sam "Lightnin'" Hopkins (March 15, 1912 – January 30, 1982) was a country blues guitar musician, from Houston, Texas. Born in Centerville, Texas, Hopkins learned the blues when young in Buffalo, Texas from Blind Lemon Jefferson and his older cousin, country-blues singer Alger 'Texas' Alexander. When Hopkins and Alexander were playing in Houston in 1946, he was discovered by Lola Anne Cullum of Los Angeles', Aladdin Records (although Alexander would not make it out to L.A.) Hopkins' fast finger style is very distinct. He settled in Houston in 1952 and gained much attention. Solid recordings followed including his masterpiece song Mojo Hand in 1960. His style was born from spending many hours playing informally without a backing band. His distinctive style often included playing, in effect, bass, rhythm, lead, percussion, and vocals, all at the same time. His musical phrasing would often include a long low note at the beginning, the rhythm played in the middle range, then the lead in the high range. By playing this quickly - with occasional slaps of the guitar - the effect of bass, rhythm, percussion and lead would be created. In 1968 Hopkins recorded the album Free Form Patterns backed by psychedelic rock band the 13th Floor Elevators.

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