Luther Allison – Scorching Chicago Blues

Luther Allison – His Beginnings

Luther Allison was born in Widener, Arkansas in 1939. In 1951, his family moves to Chicago where he first connects with the blues at the age of ten. Even at an early age, he started listening to the likes of Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson, and Robert Nighthawk. Consequently, he is classmates with Water’s son and would occasionally stop by their house to watch his father rehearse. 

Furthermore, it wasn’t until he was eighteen that he started playing the blues on a real guitar. Music became his focus, and he decides to drop out of high school to pursue his dreams of being a musician. Next up, he’s playing gigs on the west side of Chicago with his band “The Four Jivers”. Before long, he was performing with several of the West Side’s best players.

His Career Takes Flight

As a result of playing in the clubs, Allison is learning the tricks of the trade by Chicago’s greatest blues players. Magic Sam, Otis Rush, and Freddie King, take him under their wing. King also encourages Allison to start singing. Finally, his career takes off when King starts touring. Allison takes over his gig at Walton’s Corner and becomes one of the hottest acts to perform there. This is where he really is able to hone his craft. After a while he goes to California and cut his first two songs with Delmark and later releasing his first solo album. 

In addition to, Luther being a great guitarist, his voice just exudes the blues. Not only can he make you feel his pain in the music, but also joy when he performed it. He most certainly celebrated the blues when he played live, and he did it with pure joy. As a result of his intense performances, Luther lands a headlining spot at the Ann Arbor Blues Festival in 1969. And went from a relative unknown guitarist to a major blues-rock attraction.

Recording with Motown Records

In 1972, Allison signed with Motown Records in 1972 as the label’s only blues act. His three records for Motown lead to numerous concert dates and both national and international festival appearances. After finding instant acceptance in Europe, he is convinced that Paris is the place to be. While he was gaining, superstar status in Europe and released a dozen European records, he’s losing his fan base in the U.S. His presence in the American music scene diminishes.

Fast forward, to the release of Soul Fixin’ Man in 1994, Allison’s first domestic album in 20 years, he announces his return. After three mammoth U.S. tours, America once again embraces Luther Allison. Allison follows up with Blue Streak where he finally received the accolades that he deserves and once again he’s in the limelight. 

Touring and More!

Allison continues touring for his fans around the world, as he brings his band from the San Francisco Blues Festival to New York’s Central Park SummerStage, with all stops in between. All in all, he is showing the world how the blues is done! 

Fans Mourn Worldwide 

Throughout it all, Allison delivered one show-stopping performance after another. His boundless energy and combined fierce guitar playing made him a blues superstar who reached rock fans like no other blues men since Freddie King and Albert Collins. When the news broke that Allison had been diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer July 1997, the blues world was shocked. When he died just four weeks later, they were devastated. Without a doubt, Luther Allison’s death robbed music fans of one of the most exciting and popular blues performers ever. – Alligator Records. 

Keeping the Legacy Going

Luther Allison’s son Bernard Allison, at one time a member of his band, is now a solo recording artist. Bernard makes his first venture into the music business at age 13, where he performs on a live album with his father.

Lastly, the Blues Hall of Fame inducts Luther Allison in 1998. 

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