Thursday, January 9, 2014

KID THOMAS - One Wild Rock and Roller!

Oh my goodness, another tragic story of a great rocker gone too soon!

Kid Thomas 
Born June 20th, 1934
Died April 5th, 1970

Wild mover-and-shaker maker Mississppi born and Chicago raised Kid Thomas' story is pretty sad. I didn't realize it when I bought his record from Norton. As I read the liner notes, and then scoured the internet for more about him, I was saddened as I found out he was another great rocker, along with Little Willie John, Bobby Fuller, Eddie Cochran, Sam Cooke, among others that had a sudden and tragic ending.

But let's focus on the music!
Living in Chicago, Kid worked with Muddy Waters, Elmore James, Bo Diddley, Howlin Wolf and his skills on the harmonica led him to often sit in for Little Walter when he was too inebriated to perform.

His first record "Wolf Pack was recorded in 1955 on Federal Records.
"The Spell"
(which I do not have and cannot find a YouTube video)

Not surprisingly, an original clean copy of this 45 is not easy to come by and if it is, it's not going to be cheap. 
Despite how awesome both sides are, the record wasn't a hit and Federal dropped him. When two guys from Wichita were blown away by his set in Chicago, they got him a job at a bar in Wichita. In order to get there, Kid Thomas stole a car from a minister for whom he had been doing a little work. 
The job in Wichita caught on and even when the band broke up Kid Thomas returned a month later to play with Hound Dog Taylor, proving to be a good draw. Yet, Kid Thomas eventually returned to Chicago, now highly influenced by Little Richard and the wave of rock and roll that had taken the country by storm, except for those blues clubs in South Side Chicago. He then headed west, and eventually landed in L.A. where his next round of frantic rock and rollers were recorded.

"Rockin' This Joint" was recorded in 1959 on Transcontinental Records.

He took a regular gig in LA and performed under the name Tommy Louis and the Rhythm Rockers or the Versatiles, but did not record for another 5 years

But when he did...
 He sure killed it.
"Wail Baby Wail" was recorded in 1965 on Muriel Records.

Now for the sad part. He never achieved commercial success (which we all know is never an indicator of greatness) and he worked for a landscaping company and in 1970 he struck and killed a child. Although he was cleared of manslaughter charges, the father of the child shot him in the head a short time later.
Aaaaand sigh...
It's the stuff of tragedies, really.

RIP Kid Thomas

Here is a great blog, done in 2009 by someone who knows a lot more than I do.

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