SAM "Lightnin'" HOPKINS & Diamond Lacy
SAM "LIGHTNIN'"2 HOPKINS (ABE1) was born 15 Mar 1912 in Centerville, Leon Co., TX; died January 30, 1982. He married DIAMOND ALMER LACY (marriage records show Almer Lacey, birth records of child show name as Diamond Lacy).
Lightnin' Hopkins and Diamond Lacy had relatives in Houston Co., TX and they lived in Houston County for years. He played in the saloons at times, and played his music many years on the street just off the square in Crockett called Camp Street. A statue in his honor is located on that street today.
More About SAM "LIGHTNIN'" HOPKINS:
FACT #1-: Hopkins learned the blues when young in Buffalo, Texas from Blind Lemon Jefferson and his older cousin, country-blues singer Alger 'Texas' Alexander.
FACT #1b-: When Hopkins and Alexander were playing in Houston in 1946, he was discovered by Lola Anne Cullum of Los Angeles', Aladdin Records
FACT #1c-: He settled in Houston in 1952 and gained much attention. Solid recordings followed including his masterpiece song Mojo Hand in 1960.
Children of SAM HOPKINS and DIAMOND LACEY are:
i. Private, b. 29 Aug 1929, Leon Co., TX.
ii. Private, b. 05 Jun 1934, Houston Co., TX.
|PARENTS AND SIBLINGS OF LIGHTNIN' HOPKINS|
1. ABE1 HOPKINS was born 1877 in TX, and died 1915. He married (1) MOLLIE HOLMES 13 May 1893 in Leon Co., TX. He married (2) SALLIE TUBB
25 Apr 1897 in Leon Co., TX. He married (3) FRANCES WASHINGTON 09 May 1901 in Leon Co., TX. She was born 1885 in TX.
Notes for ABE HOPKINS:
Some list the 3rd wife of Abe Hopkins as Frances Sims... the marriage records of Leon Co., TX list her as Frances Washington. Possibly she married before this marriage.
1910 Leon Co., TX census: HOPKINS, Abe, black, 33, m2x, TX TX TX, farm labor; Francis, wife, 25, m1x 9yrs, 4ch 4liv, TX TX TX; John H., son, 9, TX; Joel, son, 7, TX; Abe, Jr., son, 4, TX; Allice, dau, 2, TX.
1920 Leon Co., TX Pct. 1 census: HOPKINS, Francis, 36, widow, TX, farmer; Joel, son, 16, TX; Abe, son, 13, TX; Alice, dau, 11, TX; Sam, son, 8, TX.
More About ABE HOPKINS:
FACT #1-: 1910 Leon Co., TX census: HOPKINS, Abe, black, 33, m2x, TX TX TX, farm labor; Francis, wife, 25, m1x 9yrs, 4ch 4liv, TX TX TX; John H., son, 9, TX; Joel, son, 7, TX; Abe, Jr., son, 4, TX; Allice, dau, 2, TX.
FACT #2-: 1920 Leon Co., TX Pct. 1 census: HOPKINS, Francis, 36, widow, TX, farmer; Joel, son, 16, TX; Abe, son, 13, TX; Alice, dau, 11, TX; Sam, son, 8, TX.
Children of ABE HOPKINS and FRANCES WASHINGTON are:
i. JOHN HENRY2 HOPKINS, b. 1901, TX.
ii. JOEL HOPKINS, b. 1903, TX.
iii. Abe HOPKINS, Jr., b. 1906, TX.
iv. ALLICE HOPKINS, b. 1908, TX.
v. SAM "LIGHTNIN'" HOPKINS, b. 15 Mar 1912, Centerville, Leon Co., TX.
Source: HANDBOOK OF TEXAS ONLINE:
HOPKINS, SAM (1912-1982).
Sam (Lightnin') Hopkins, blues singer and guitarist, was born in Centerville, Texas, on March 15, 1912, the son of Abe and Frances (Sims) Hopkins. After his father died in 1915, the family (his mother and five brothers and sisters) moved to Leona. At age eight he made his first instrument, a cigar-box guitar with chicken-wire strings. By ten he was playing music with his cousin, Alger (Texas) Alexander, and Blind Lemon Jefferson, who encouraged him to continue. Hopkins also played with his brothers, blues musicians John Henry and Joel.
By the mid-1920s Sam had started jumping trains, shooting dice, and playing the blues anywhere he could. He served time at the Houston County Prison Farm in the mid-1930's, and after his release he returned to the blues-club circuit. In 1946 he had his big break and first recording in Los Angeles for Aladdin Recordings. On the record was a piano player named Wilson (Thunder) Smith; by chance he combined well with Sam to give him his nickname, Lightnin'. The album has been described as "downbeat solo blues" characteristic of Hopkins's style. Aladdin was so impressed with Hopkins that the company invited him back for a second session in 1947. He eventually made forty-three recordings for the label.
Over his career Hopkins recorded for a total of close to twenty different labels, including Gold Star Records in Houston. On occasion he would record for one label while under contract to another. In 1950 he settled in Houston, but he continued to tour the country periodically. Though he recorded prolifically between 1946 and 1954, his records for the most part were not big outside the black community. It was not until 1959, when Hopkins began working with legendary producer Sam Chambers, that his music began to reach a mainstream white audience. Hopkins switched to an acoustic guitar and became a hit in the folk-blues revival of the 1960s. During the early 1960s he played at Carnegie Hall with Pete Seeger and Joan Baez and in 1964 toured with the American Folk Blues Festival. By the end of the decade he was opening for such rock bands as the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane. He toured Europe during the 1970s, playing for Queen Elizabeth II at a command performance. Hopkins also performed at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. In 1972 he worked on the soundtrack to the film Sounder. He was also the subject of a documentary, The Blues According to Lightnin' Hopkins, which won a prize at the Chicago Film Festival for outstanding documentary in 1970.
Some of his biggest hits included "Short Haired Women / Big Mama Jump!" (1947); "Shotgun Blues," which went to number five on the Billboard charts in 1950; and "Penitentiary Blues" (1959). His albums included The Complete Prestige/Bluesville Recordings, The Complete Aladdin Recordings, and the Gold Star Sessions (two volumes). Hopkins recorded a total of more than eighty-five albums and toured around the world. But after a 1970 car crash, many of the concerts he performed were on his front porch or at a bar near his house. He had an incredible knack for writing songs impromptu, and frequently wove myths and legends around a core of truth. His songs were often autobiographical, making him a de facto spokesperson for the southern black community that had no voice in the white mainstream until blues attained a broader popularity through white singers like Elvis Presley. Lightnin' Hopkins died of cancer of the esophagus on January 30, 1982. He was survived by his wife, Antoinette, and four children. His funeral was attended by more than 4,000, including fans and musicians. His influence was felt throughout the music world for many years.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Sheldon Harris, Blues Who's Who: A Biographical Dictionary of Blues Singers (New Rochelle, New York: Arlington House, 1979). Houston Chronicle, February 7, 1982. Stanley Sadie, ed., The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (Washington: Macmillan, 1980). Robert Santelli, Big Book of the Blues: A Biographical Encyclopedia (New York: Penguin Books, 1993). Eileen Southern, Biographical Dictionary of Afro-American and African Musicians (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood, 1982).
Alan Lee Haworth