Release Date: 02/24/09
A Loner But Not Lonesome'
Joe Hill Louis was born Lester Hill in September 1921, near Memphis. His mother died when he was twelve or thirteen. Beaten by his stepmother, he ran away. In Memphis, he fell in with the Canale family who took him in as a cook's assistant. He worked for them for the rest of his brief life. At some time he fought a local tearaway called Prince Henry and beat him. The Canales named him after the then heavyweight champion. Thus Joe Hill Louis. Willie Borum recalled, 'Me and Will Shade taught him all he knew on guitar. He played before but he never did get his guitar-playing right earlier. That was right after the war.' For his first recording date, he was probably scouted in Memphis and sent north. The result is decidedly downhome, with Joe backed by an unknown bassist and drummer. Joe wanted to do it again. Sam Phillips remembered him coming by his nearly completed studio to see what was happening. Phillips was insightful about Joe: '(He) was always well-dressed, sharp, a dapper man. He was well organised. He was a treasure, to me. He was fairly unique. He was a kind of loner but extremely friendly ... He was a loner but not lonesome. He was a complete individual as a musician - he had his own style ...' Once Phillips was in business, Joe cut a session in July 1950. He recorded frequently for the rest of his life - Ace, Big Town and House Of Sound among the labels he recorded for. Our last sight of Joe Hill Louis is a clattering event made to sound as if it's a radio broadcast, with an announcer allegedly speaking from Chicago. It rocks along, sounding similar to the Ace titles. It's believed Joe was working on another record when he cut his thumb while doing some yardwork. Joe paid little attention to the wound, unaware he'd contracted tetanus. A few days later, he collapsed at the wheel of his car. He was taken to hospital where he was found to be beyond help. He died on August 5, 1957, six weeks short of his thirty-sixth birthday.
|Label: Jsp Records|
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