August 5, 2005


Little Milton Campbell, blues legend, dies (JEFF JOHNSON, 8/05/05, Chicago Sun-Times)

The son of Mississippi sharecropper and bluesman Big Milton, Mr. Campbell left home in his early teens, making his way to Helena, Ark. "I was looking for a better way of life," he said. "I knew there had to be a better way to make a living than picking or chopping cotton."

In Helena, he became a protege of harmonica kingpin Sonny Boy Williamson. He moved on to East St. Louis on the advice of Turner, who had recommended him to Phillips at Sun Records. His first hit, "I'm a Lonely Man," came on the Bobbin label. Then Mr. Campbell switched to Checker, a subsidiary of Chicago's Chess Records, in 1961, where he recorded such hits as "We're Gonna Make It," "Grits Ain't Groceries" and the anthem "Hey, Hey, the Blues Is Alright."

His horn-driven sound rarely stuck to the classic 12-bar blues structure, making it harder to market him to white blues fans. A nearly two-decade stint with Malaco Records that preceded the Telarc signing brought continued popularity with soul lovers but inhibited his crossover dreams.

A few years ago Chess came out with some nice collections of hits by blues greats, including Little Milton.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 5, 2005 10:16 AM
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