Little Willie John (1937-1968)

Little Willie John, born William Edward John on November 15th, 1937, was one of ten children born in Cullendale, Arkansas to Mertis John and mother Lillie John. His family migrated north to Detroit, Michigan in the 1940s so his father could find work. Little Willie John was a musically gifted child who performed … Read MoreLittle Willie John (1937-1968)

Antoine “Fats” Domino (1928-2017)

Antoine “Fats” Domino, early rock and roll musician, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana on February 26, 1928 to Antoine Domino, a former plantation worker, and Donatile Gros, a Creole of light complexion.  Fats, as he was soon called because of his weight, was raised in a large family … Read MoreAntoine “Fats” Domino (1928-2017)

Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton (1926-1984)

Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton was a blues singer and songwriter whose recordings of “Hound Dog” and “Ball ‘n’ Chain” later were transformed into huge hits by Elvis Presley and Janis Joplin. Willie Mae Thornton was born on December 11, 1926 outside of Montgomery in … Read MoreWillie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton (1926-1984)

James Brown (1933-2006)

Born May 3, 1933, into poverty in racially segregated Barnwell, South Carolina, James Brown became the most assertively black rhythm and blues singer ever accorded mainstream acceptance before audiences throughout the world. Arrested for breaking and entering at age 15, Brown’s early run-ins with the … Read MoreJames Brown (1933-2006)