#callitstormymonday You have probably heard of Elvis Presley and perhaps even heard him sing, “You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog.” This was ”the signature song” that propelled him to fame and estimated lifetime earnings of $4.3 billion. It is less likely you have heard of Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton. She first recorded “Hound Dog” in 1952 and received $500 in payment, her only earnings from the song.The discrepancy between their fates has been described as “perhaps the most notorious example of the inequity that often existed when a black original was covered by a white artist,” says the Encyclopedia of Alabama.
Thornton recorded "Hound Dog" at Radio Recorders Annex in Los Angeles on August 13, 1952, the day after its composition. It subsequently became her biggest hit. According to Hound Dog: The Leiber and Stoller Autobiography, Thornton's "Hound Dog" was the first record that Leiber and Stoller produced themselves, taking over from bandleader Johnny Otis. Said Stoller:
We were worried because the drummer wasn't getting the feel that Johnny had created in rehearsal. "Johnny," Jerry said, "can't you play drums on the record? No one can nail that groove like you." "Who's gonna run the session?" he asked. Silence. "You two?" he asked. "The kids are gonna run a recording session?" "Sure," I said. "The kids wrote it. Let the kids do it."
Johnny smiled and said, 'Why not?'"
Otis played drums on the recording, replacing Ledard "Kansas City" Bell. As Otis was still signed exclusively to Federal Records, a subsidiary of Syd Nathan's King Records as "Kansas City Bill"or perhaps with Mercury Records at this time, Otis used the pseudonym "Kansas City Bill" (after his drummer "Kansas City" Bell) on this record. Therefore, Otis, Louisiana blues guitarist Pete "Guitar" Lewis, and Puerto Rican bass player Mario Delagarde (some sources say erroneously it was Albert Winston) are listed as "Kansas City Bill & Orchestra" on the Peacock record labels.In an interview included on the album Leavin' Chicago, Thornton credits Lewis for establishing the feel of her recording. #bigmamathornton#bluessinger#femalesinger#blueshistory#hounddog#elvispresley#peteguitarlewis#peacock
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