Not to be Forgotten
Luther Allison, like Buddy Guy and Otis Rush, was another one of the recently playing bluesmen, albeit not as well known as B.B. King. While Otis hails from Louisiana, Luther started in close proximity to Buddy's Mississippi background, but it was across that muddy watery expanse in Arkansas. It was Mayflower that was the birthplace for Luther Allison on St. Patrick's Day in 1939.
Like Elmore James, and others too, he made a home made instrument from broom wire stretched across from the house, played upon with a bottle. He was not much older when he played with a traveling religious ensemble until he moved with his family to Chicago at 12 years old.
In the 1950's he played in groups alternating with either brother Ollie Lee, or Grant, using a variety of names, including the "Rolling Stones."
His recording career did not begin until his signing with Delmark records in 1967, and his most consistent gig was with the Ann Arbor Blues Festival through the early 70's. Similar to Albert King's signing with Memphis' Stax Records, predominately "soul" and not traditional blues, Luther got a contract with Detroit's Motown in 1974.
Through the 70's his global festival, club and concertbookings rival those of the more famous B.B. King, and those that have lucky enough to give ear to his slashing axe and live charisma would testify why. He was residing in Paris from 1979, but would return to the states for events like the 1995 12th Annual Chicago Blues Festival, where he responded to his fans in the crowd of 150,000 pleas to "Burn it down" and begging him "Don't hurt me, Luther!"
He ruled the 90's, starting with his album Bad Love and Soul Fixin' released in 1994, and followed with an album with 11 of the dozen songs written by him, produced by Albert Collins' and Stevie Ray's producer, Jim Galnes backed by the famed "Memphis Horns", titled, strong>Blue Streak. He graced the covers of these Blues magazines: Living Blues, Blues Review, and Blues Access, but also his CD received lavish praise by People Magazine. He received the coveted blues "oscar", the Handy Awards in 1996 his career moved along with the current blues momentum started by the late Stevie Ray Vaughan, through Robert Cray, and on into now with Jonny Lang. He appeared on television with Conan O'Brien as well as radio time with NPR's All Things Considered. He recorded Live in Chicago (excepting 4 cuts from Lincoln, Nebraska's "Zoo Bar") to a sold out crowd at Buddy Guy's Legends. But, his real venue was larger halls, he would tour non-stop around the globe, playing until closing time even if it was Lincoln, Nebraska or Australia, let alone his gigs in New York, Paris, Los Angeles; or even Paris and Japan.
Jonny Lang purportedly played barefoot in his live performances after hearing of the untimely death of cancer of his hero in 1997. That year he won 5 Handy Awards, including the zenith: "Entertainer of the Year" a total of 15 Living Blues Awards in this time, and posthumously won 3 more the next.