Menu

Big Mama Thornton Photo Gallery

Willie MaeBig MamaThornton (December 11, 1926 – July 25, 1984) was a Rhythm and Blues singer, harmonica player and drummer. She was to first to record the song “Hound Dog” which was a hit for her before Elvis Presley recorded it. She wrote and recorded “Ball and Chain” which was later recorded by Janis Joplin. These photos were either taken by Chris Strachwitz or collected by him. Listen to an interview of Big Mama Thornton by Chris Strachwitz here….  


Statement on the passing of Chris Strachwitz

Arhoolie Records Founder
July 1, 1931 – May 5, 2023

We celebrate the life of our founder, friend, and great record man Chris Strachwitz. He died peacefully at home in Marin County, CA, surrounded in his last days by dear friends and family. Over his 91 years, Chris captured the music that represents the best “down home music” the world has to offer.

He was at the forefront of nearly all the roots revivals over the last 60 years including blues, zydeco, Cajun, Norteño and Tejano music. His drive to document traditional music helped introduce the nation to our diverse musical heritage. He had the foresight to save music that might have otherwise been lost to obscurity and played a role in strengthening cultural traditions through his records, films, and most recently the Arhoolie Foundation. He cared for those around him, fought for royalties and recognition for Arhoolie artists, and provided counsel to countless musicians, writers, film makers, and academics.

Plans for a public celebration of his life will be announced in the coming weeks. Today we’re thinking of all that Chris brought to our lives and the lives of the musicians and fans with whom he shared his passion.