Lafayette Thomas

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b. 13 June 1928, Shreveport, Louisiana, USA, d. 20 May 1977, Brisbane, California, USA. One of the few post-war guitarists to develop a personal style from an early admiration of T-Bone Walker, Thomas…
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b. 13 June 1928, Shreveport, Louisiana, USA, d. 20 May 1977, Brisbane, California, USA. One of the few post-war guitarists to develop a personal style from an early admiration of T-Bone Walker, Thomas was encouraged by his uncle, Jesse ‘Babyface’ Thomas. The family moved to San Francisco soon after his birth and there he learned to play both piano and guitar. His first gig in 1947 was with Al Simmons’ Rhythm Rockers. In 1948 he replaced guitarist Robert Kelton in Jimmy McCracklin’s band, with whom he remained intermittently for the rest of his career. He made his first record while on tour with McCracklin. ‘Baby Take A Chance With Me’, recorded in Memphis in 1951 for Sam Phillips, was issued on Chess Records under the name of L.J. Thomas And His Louisiana Playboys. He also worked with Bob Geddins, playing on many Jimmy Wilson sessions leased to Aladdin Records, 7-11, Big Town and Irma. His own records were made for small labels such as Jumping, Hollywood (unissued) and Trilyte, but more often he cut odd titles at McCracklin’s 50s sessions for Modern, Peacock and Chess, discovered and issued on album three decades later. Moving briefly to New York in 1959, he made ‘Lafayette’s A-Comin’’ for Savoy with pianist Sammy Price, before returning to the west coast. He worked outside music for most of the 60s, sharing one album session with pianist Dave Alexander and L.C. ‘Good Rockin’’ Robinson in September 1968. The comeback was brief and he spent his last years working as a hose assembler. His best work is to be found on the records of McCracklin and Wilson, providing the biting solos for which he will be remembered.