Lowell Fulson – West Coast Blues
Where do you begin when it comes to an artist that has recorded so many styles of blues. It’s really hard to compartmentalize someone like Lowell Fulson. Furthermore, why would you? My theories are that wherever he and his guitar went, he picked up little pieces of each city’s musical essence and carried them with him wherever he toured.
Realistically speaking, this musician grew up around music, played and toured constantly while studying the different styles of blues wherever he played. Some even say that after T-Bone Walker, Fulson was the most important figure in West Coast blues in the 1940s and 1950s.
In a sense, he was blues scholar but it’s also obvious that he listened and paid attention to what might be the next “big thing” around the corner music-wise. Smart for any musician that wants to have a lucrative career in the long haul. Lowell Fulson was a force of nature with a very expressive voice and a note-by-note guitar playing.
Furthermore, he wasn’t afraid to experiment when it came to playing music. He even covers The Beatles “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road!” under the name “Lowell Fulsom.” Done intentionally? It’s hard to say. But the cover is pretty awesome!
A young Ray Charles got his first big break playing in Lowell’s band and so did jazz saxophonist, Stanley Turrentine. Other bands Mr. Fulson led includes Ike Turner on guitar and King Curtis on tenor saxophone. From interviews, he was considered by many as a kind and gentle man. Who eagerly shared his talents for those willing to work hard and learn.
He even helps launch the career of B.B. King and wrote hits recorded by Elvis Presley, Otis Redding and Carla Thomas. Lastly, he is a member of the Blues Hall of Fame and the Rhythm-and-Blues Hall of Fame. His “Reconsider Baby” was chosen by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the “500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll”.
The Early Years
Fulson is born on a Choctaw reservation in Oklahoma. At the age of eighteen, Fulson moves to Ada, Oklahoma, and joins Alger “Texas” Alexander for a few months in 1940, but later moves to California, forming a band which soon includes a young Ray Charles and tenor saxophone player, Stanley Turrentine.
He records for Swing Time in the 1940s, Chess Records (Checker Records) in the 1950s, Kent Records in the 1960s, and Rounder Records (Bullseye) in the 1970s. As well as many other labels in between.
The Short Video Clip that Piqued My Curiosity
I saw this video on YouTube and was mesmerized by it and after it ended, I wanted to hear more! Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any longer versions until someone posted about it. Turns out, It’s from a DVD called “Down Home Music: A Journey Through the Heartland 1963”. Furthermore, it’s about a German filmmaker Dietrich Wawzyn hired by Arhoolie Records founder Chris Strachwitz to take him on a musical tour of America.
Featuring performances by musicians including Jesse Fuller, Lowell Fulson, King Louis H. Narcisse, Rev. Louis Overstreet, Mance Lipscomb, Black Ace, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Alex Moore, the George Lewis Quartet, the Eureka Brass Band, the Hodges Brothers, Red Sovine, the Willis Brothers, Blind James Campbell, J.E. Mainer, Sweet Emma Barrett, Chief White Cloud, and more.