15 Best Blues Musicians of All Time: Lightnin Hopkins

By Thomas Swan t.swan@classicalite.com | Jan 02, 2016 01:29 AM EST

One could rank the fifteen best blues musicians of all time in some kind of order, but then the onus would be on the number rather than the stories each told or the lives they led, so this list will not be burdened by numbers. Instead, it will be all about the musicians and the music they created. Say hello to Lightnin' Hopkins.

Lightnin' Hopkins played the blues, The narrator of his tales experienced the same ups and downs as other blues practitioners did, but Lightnin's were always different. He made it all look easy. Lightnin's smooth, soulful delivery, in either his vocals or guitar, wasn't complex or tangled in a mess of notes. He knew what he wanted to say and how he wanted to say it. And Lightnin' Hopkins was one of the smoothest cats.

Born San Johns Hopkins on March 15, 1912, according to Musicologist Robert "Mack" McCormick, via Wikipedia, opined that Hopkins is the embodiment of the jazz-and-poetry spirit, representing its ancient form in the single creator whose words and music are one act." Hopkins met up with the legendary Blind Lemon Jefferson in the early 20's and the youngster impressed Jefferson so much, that the elder bluesman allowed Lightnin', and only Lightnin', to accompany him.

Above all, Lightnin' Hopkins was a perenially consistent performer. He was always there and he was always the same Sam Johns Hopkins that everyone knew and loved. All Music remembered Lightnin' this way, "Sam Hopkins was a Texas country bluesman of the highest caliber whose career began in the 1920s and stretched all the way into the 1980s. Along the way, Hopkins watched the genre change remarkably, but he never appreciably altered his mournful Lone Star sound, which translated onto both acoustic and electric guitar. Hopkins' nimble dexterity made intricate boogie riffs seem easy, and his fascinating penchant for improvising lyrics to fit whatever situation might arise made him a beloved blues troubadour. "

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