Sunday, August 07, 2005

Little Milton

Little Milton Campbell died on Thursday.'s bio starts with this observation

He may not be a household name, but die-hard blues fans know Little Milton as a superb all-around electric bluesman -- a soulful singer, an evocative guitarist, an accomplished songwriter, and a skillful bandleader. He's often compared to the legendary B.B. King -- as well as Bobby "Blue" Bland -- for the way his signature style combines soul, blues, and R&B, a mixture that helped make him one of the biggest-selling bluesmen of the '60s (even if he's not as well-remembered as King). As time progressed, his music grew more and more orchestrated, with strings and horns galore. He maintained a steadily active recording career all the way from his 1953 debut on Sam Phillips' legendary Sun label, with his stunning longevity including notable stints at Chess (where he found his greatest commercial success), Stax, and Malaco.

Little Milton never really crossed-over to white audiences the way B. B. King, Albert King, Buddy Guy, and John Lee Hooker did. He remained a big draw with African-American audiences.

I heard Little Milton at the last or next to last KC Blues and Jazz Festival. In addition to concerts going simulataneously at three stages, the KC festival featured a blues school--performers giving an intimate performance and talk in the afternoon inside tents. I took some pictures. I then took a couple that I liked the most and made "artistic" with Corel's PhotoPaint program. A couple of years ago when Little Milton appeared at the Cotillion in Wichita, I went and had him autograph them.

One of them is the photo above.

Every time I heard Little Milton he gave an outstanding performance. He'll be missed.

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