Bluesman ‘Little’ Milton Dies After Stroke

Blues singer, songwriter and guitarist “Little” Milton Campbell, whose gritty vocals and songwriting recalled B.B. King’s rough-edged style, died today (Aug. 4) from a stroke, his record company said.

The 71-year-old Grammy-nominated guitarist and singer known for writing and recording the blues anthem “The Blues Is Alright” never awoke from a coma following a stroke he suffered on July 27 in Memphis, said Valarie Kashimura of The Malaco Music Group.

Born to sharecropping farmers near the Mississippi Delta town of Inverness — his father, “Big” Milton Campbell, was a local blues musician — “Little” Milton picked up a guitar at age 12 and recorded his first hit for Sam Phillips’ Sun Records at age 18.

Discovered by blues-rock pioneer Ike Turner, Campbell went on to score dozens of rhythm and blues hits and was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1988.

Though acclaimed in blues circles, Campbell never achieved the fame of King and some other American bluesmen. Nevertheless, his nearly constant touring took him all over the world.

After signing with Bobbin Records in East St. Louis, Illinois, Campbell recorded “I’m a Lonely Man” and “That Will Never Do.” A long association with Chicago’s Chess Records produced the 1965 hit “We’re Gonna Make It,” which coincided with the civil rights movement. Other hits included “Baby I Love You,” “If Walls Could Talk,” “Feel So Bad,” “Who’s Cheating Who?” and “Grits Ain’t Groceries.”

“Annie Mae’s Cafe” and “Little Bluebird” were hits he recorded with Memphis’ Stax Records, which he joined in 1971 before the label’s demise.


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