Passings: Chicago Blues Legend Lonnie Brooks (1933 - 2017)

by VVN Music

Chicago has lost another of their great bluesmen. Lonnie Brooks died on Saturday (April 1) in his hometown from an undisclosed cause.

Brooks' family issued a statement:

Lonnie Brooks
December 18th, 1933 - April 1st, 2017

With the deepest sadness, we the Baker Brooks family announce the passing of our father, Legendary Blues musician Lonnie Brooks at the age of 83 in Chicago, IL on 4/1/17. Please respect the family's privacy during this time of grief.

Funeral arrangements will be announced soon.

Brooks was born in Dubuisson, LA and learned about the blues from his grandfather. Lonnie never considered music as a career until he moved to Port Arthur, TX during his late-teens where he was exposed to some of the great blues men of the day.

His first professional job was in Clifton Chenier's Red Hot Louisiana Band and would later go solo, scoring a few hits in his area of Texas including Family Rules, The Crawl and Roll, Roll, Roll, all recorded for Goldband Records.

In 1959, Brooks became friends with Sam Cooke during a tour of the south and ended up returning to Chicago where he would reside with Cooke's mother and brother. Steeped in the harder blues sound of his new home city, he eventually ended up in Jimmy Reed's band and can be heard on Reed's hit Big Boss Man.

Brooks released his first solo album, Broke an' Hungry using his old stage name of Guitar Jr for Capitol Records in 1969 but the albums wasn't a success. Five years later, while on a tour of Europe with a number of blues artists, the French label Black & Blue recorded an album with Brooks, Sweet Home Chicago but the album didn't find distribution in the U.S. until 1994.

Lonnie's recording career would finally take off when he was signed to Alligator Records in 1978. After including four of Brooks' songs on their album Living Chicago Blues. In 1980, they issued Brooks' album Bayou Lightning which went on to win the Grand Prix du Disque Award at the 1980 Montreux Jazz Festival.

Brooks stayed with Alligator Records for the rest of his life, issuing over a dozen albums. He also toured nationally with numerous other blues greats and made appearances on TV shows from Hee Haw to David Letterman.

Lonnie was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2010 along with Amos Milburn, Charlie Musselwhite, Bonnie Raitt, W.C. Handy and Gus Cannon.

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