Editor’s Note: The following was originally published in American Blues Scene.
Lowell Fulson stands tall in the world of West Coast blues. It could even be argued that he, along with the great T-Bone Walker are the pillars of the genre. What is indisputable is the legacy of poignant, and majestic blues he left for us to enjoy. By the time he moved to Oklahoma at the age of 18 in 1939, Lowell Fulson was on his way to becoming the musician he would eventually blossom into. Also known sometimes as Lowell Fullson and Lowell Fulsom, he would move to California soon thereafter and form a band that included among it’s members a young piano player named Ray Charles.
Over the course of his lifetime, Fulson would record with several labels, including Rounder Records (Bullseye), Swing Time Records, and Chess Records (actually on their Checker label).
Several of his compositions are blues standards today, and have been performed by everyone from Eric Clapton to B.B. King. Among his better known works are “3 O’Clock Blues,” “Blue Shadows,” “Black Nights,” and “Strange Feeling,” both written with Fats Washington. And who can forget the masterpiece that is “Sinner’s Prayer,” written with Lyod Glenn?
Then of course there is “Reconsider Baby,” perhaps the song most often associated with Fulson. Aside from being his biggest hit, the song has been inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame under the category “Classics of Blues Recording – Singles or Album Tracks’ in 1993, and also included in 1995 the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s “500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll” listing. Fulson himself was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame in 1993.
Besides influencing Eric Clapton and B.B. King, artists as diverse as Ray Charles, ZZ Top, Leslie West, and Salt-n-Pepa have recorded versions of his work, while rappers Redman and Cypress Hill have used samples of his records in their work.
Fulson’s work has endured because like all things of quality, there is just something about them that we can not get enough of, and they leave us longing for more. Fulson’s beautiful, expressive, lyrical guitar lines, in some cases, almost spiritual performances have justly placed him in the pantheon of blues legends.
Revisit the works of the great artist, through his performances, and also through the interpretation of others.