Long John Hunter Still the "KING OF THE ROCKING WEST TEXAS BLUES"
In 1957, and for the next 13 years, Long John Hunter and his band of former Mexican bartenders played seven nights a week from sundown to sun up, against a colorful and dangerous backdrop of soldiers, tourists, frat boys, hookers, cowboys and playboys all fueled by a steady flow of alcohol, fights and one night stands.
"If it didn't happen at the Lobby Bar," recalls Long John, "it just didn't happen in life." The people in El Paso and Juarez wasted no time in proclaiming Long John Hunter their reigning King of Rocking West Texas Blues.
Long John sounds as if he grew up with a guitar in his hands, but that’s anything but the case. Born near Shreveport, La. on July 13, 1931 to a large sharecropping family that ultimately laid down roots five miles outside Magnolia Ark., the lad had no intention of strumming a solitary chord until he landed on the outskirts of Beaumont, Texas at the age of 22. When his buddy, insisted he join him to check out B.B. King’s band, that’s where Long John discovered his true musical calling.
“And I watched that man play that guitar, and the women were screamin’, and everybody was havin’ a good time. And I said, ‘Man, that’s for me! That'll take me away from that cotton sack!’ ‘Cause I come stone out of the country, you know. It was a Wednesday night. Thursday, I bought me a guitar,” he says. “Friday, me and Ervin played a gig,” he continues. “We were so ashamed of ourselves playin’, we played with our backs to our audience. We didn’t have much of an audience, but I remember we made $2.50 each. And I said, ‘Man, this is it! This is money here!’ Like at that time, $2.50 was a lot of money. So I’ve been playing ever since.”
After the Lobby folded, Long John spent five more years headlining an El Paso nitery. Eventually the limitations of local stardom grew apparent. “It had its hindrances. Because staying in one place that long--a lot of people saw me, and everywhere I go, I’ll meet somebody that says, ‘Yeah, I remember you from the Lobby!’” he says. “But it still meant I wasn’t going nowhere.” It was high time to spread Long John’s name outside the vast boundaries of Texas.
The 1993 release of his domestic debut CD Ride With Me on the Spindletop label got the ball rolling. “I’m real proud of that,” he said. Then Long John hooked up with Alligator Records, his profile expanding with the issue of Border Town Legend in ‘96 and Swinging From the Rafters the next year. In 1999, he reunited with Phillip and Lonnie Brooks for the Alligator disc Lone Star Shootout. “We all came from the same area,” says Long John. “They used to come to where I played in Beaumont and peep through the cracks and watch me play!” The CD also featured Ervin Charles, the gent who convinced Long John to check out B.B. King several decades prior.
LONG JOHN HUNTER discography
1988 Texas Border Town Blues/Double Trouble Records
1992 Ride With Me/Spindletop Records
1994 Smooth Magic/Double Trouble Records
1996 Border Town Legend/Alligator Records
1997 Swinging From the Rafters/Alligator Records
1999 Ooh Wee Pretty Baby!/Norton Records
2003 One Foot in Texas/Doc Blues Records
2009 Looking For a Party/Blues Express Records
Long John has performed at clubs and festivals throughout the United States, Mexico, France, Holland, Germany, Spain and Turkey, including the Montreal Jazz Festival, the Maximum Blues Festival, Springin' the Blues, the San Francisco and Chicago Blues Festivals, the W.C. Handy Blues Festival, the Riverfront Blues Festival and most recently Ponderosa Stomp 2009.
Long John Hunter is raring to go!
For booking information contact:
“An unsung musical treasure, Hunter sustains the spirit of his raucous border town days” – Elmore Magazine
“Ever the natural, expressive talent” – Texas Monthly
“One of the blues' best kept secrets...a top notch singer, guitarist and unbridled wildman performer. Hunter is a raw, feral talent bursting with energy.” - Los Angeles Times
"The raw force of Hunter's feral, Albert Collins-derived Texas blues is undeniable, and his legendary showmanship comes across even on a recording," - Boston Herald
"Hunter embodies Texas blues in all its varied, roustabout glory like no one on the scene today," - Chicago Tribune
"Burns as hot as a mid-August Texas afternoon." - Blues Revue
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