Lightnin' Hopkins, Bluesman

Lightnin' Hopkins was one of the greatest blues guitarists of all time, and he didn't have to make any deals with the devil to get there. He learned as a soloist how to sound like a band – often playing lead, rhythm, bass and percussion all on one instrument, while singing as well. It was a distinctive style, and one that required massive skill.

Hopkins began playing guitar as a child, but he didn't make his first record until 1946, when he was in his thirties. He gained a following over the years, and by the late ’50s, when the American folk music revival was getting underway, he was beginning to become a legend. It was around that time that he recorded "Mojo Hand."


As the times changed, Hopkins was able to update his sound. In 1968, while psychedelic music was all the rage, he recorded the album Free Form Patterns with psychedelic band the 13th Floor Elevators.

Lightnin' Hopkins died 30 years ago today, but his influence continues to be felt throughout the blues world – and the rock world as well. After his death, the New York Times called him "perhaps the greatest single influence on rock guitar players."

Written by Linnea Crowther