Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Luther Allison (August 17, 1939–August 12, 1997) was an American blues guitarist. He was born in Widener, Arkansas and moved with his family, at age 13, to Chicago, Illinois in 1952. He had taught himself guitar while in Arkansas and began listening to blues extensively. Three years later he began hanging outside blues clubs with the hopes of being invited to perform. He played with Howlin' Wolf's band and backed up James Cotton. His big break came in 1957 when Muddy Waters invited Allison to the stage. He worked the club circut throughout the late 1950s and early 1960s and recorded his first single in 1965. Allison was signed to the Delmark Records label in fall 1967 and the following year his debut album Love Me Mama was released. He performed a stellar, show stopping, set at the 1969 Ann Arbor Blues Festival and was invited to the next three consecutive festivals. He also toured nation-wide and, in 1972, was signed to Motown Records, one of the few blues artists to do so. By the mid 1970s he began touring France, Germany and Belgium, enjoyed the warm reception by the crowds and moved to France in 1977. He wouldn't return to the United States for another 15 years.
Allison was known for his strong showmanship, ten minute long guitar solos and crowd walking with an extra long cord attached to his Gibson Les Paul. Alligator Records founder, Bruce Iglauer, convinced Allison to return to the states in 1992 and the album Soul Fixing Man was recorded and released in 1993. Luther toured the US and Canada thoroughly and his fan base grew to his mind-blowing performances. Both Allison and Soul Fixing Man won four WC Handy Awards in 1994. With the James Solburg Band backing him, non-stop touring and the release of Blues Streak (featuring song "Cherry Red Wine"), Allison continued to earn more Handy's and gain wider recognition. In the middle of his summer of '97 tour, Allison checked into a hospital for chest pains and breathing problems. Unfortunately, it was discovered that he had a tumor on his lung that was about to metastisize to his spine. In and out of a comma, Luther Allison passed away on Augast 12, 1997, five days before his 58th birthday. His album Reckless had just been released. Not only did he leave his legacy to never be forgotten, but his son Bernard Allison (born 1965) is an exceptional blues guitarist in his own right.
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