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Milton, Little

Little Milton

American blues singer and guitarist "Little" Milton Campbell (1934–2005) learned his craft as a young man growing up in the Mississippi Delta. He went on to distinguish himself with a legendary recording and performance career that lasted more than 50 years and won him a place in the Blues Hall of Fame.

Aworld-renowned musician born and bred in a region of the southern United States widely known as "the home of the blues"-the Mississippi Delta-Campbell managed to remain true to traditional blues while incorporating elements of country and soul into his music to craft a style distinctly his own. He came to be known to blues fans as simply Little Milton, and while the guitarist and singer never truly gained wide-scale crossover success on the pop charts, within the blues world he came to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with such all-time greats as B.B. King, Sonny Boy Williamson, and Bobby "Blue" Bland, among others. "Those guys elevated blues to a level where it was accepted by all people, black and white," Mississippi radio station owner Stan Branson told Mississippi's Clarion-Ledger. "Little Milton could write, play, perform. And he was a true professional." Little Milton died at the age of 70 on August 4, 2005, a few days after suffering a stroke at his Memphis home.

A riveting live performer who cut his chops on the road in the deep South as a teenager, Little Milton possessed a soulful voice and a spare, stinging guitar sound. Deeply loyal to his roots in the Delta blues tradition, he was also a maverick committed to his own groundbreaking musical instincts. He pushed the edges of what the blues could be throughout his career. "I am the type of artist who will not record anything that I cannot feel, or anything I can't add something to and at the same time get something out of," Little Milton told Jeff Weiner on the BluesAccess website. "I don't record nothing that I don't feel, that I don't like. I don't give a damn who writes it or who says you should do it. When I go into the studio, I am my own boss. I have advisors and friends, I listen to them and I listen to their points. But if I feel that I can't do it without putting all of me into it, then I say, 'No, we are not going to do it.'" It was a philosophy he never abandoned during a career that lasted more than 50 years. "When you hear his records," said blues promoter Roger Clarksdale in the Clarion-Ledger, "you notice there's nobody who did exactly what he did."

Independent Voice Stayed in the Shadows

For Little Milton, it was always about the music first and his popularity as a blues artist lingered in the shadows. His greatest hits were played the world over by blues cover bands and musicians, many of whom could not have identified the man who wrote them. Writing of one Little Milton song in particular, "The Blues is Alright," Weiner illustrated this point: "Little Milton's proud signature tune is heartily sung by local, national, and international blues bands each night in every corner of the globe. Unofficially dubbed the 'International Blues Anthem,' most musicians live to write a song ingrained so deeply in the American blues fabric as is 'The Blues is Alright.' It resonates with people worldwide, even though the majority of fans who shout out the call-and-response chorus, as well as some of the local bands who play it nightly, may not realize they're covering Little Milton, one of the true consummate professionals of the blues."

A driving force behind his professionalism was Milton's unique ability to keep his focus on what was really important—his listeners and fans. "The stars are the people sitting out there in the audience," he told Weiner. "The people that go to the record stores, buy your product and pay their money to see you—those are the stars. You are just a tool to give some humor, some pleasure, some sadness, because your songs make them happy about good things that have happened. The songs will make them reminisce about some things that weren't so pleasant and give them hope that they can change."

Started Young and Never Looked Back

Little Milton was born in a modest sharecropper's home on September 7, 1934, near the Delta town of Inverness, Mississippi. One of 13 children, he was influenced by the playing of his father, local blues musician "Big" Milton Campbell. As a young man he was also heavily influenced by the gospel music he heard in the churches, by the country music that came over the radio from Memphis, and by one of his favorite programs, the Grand Ole Opry. He took to the guitar, becoming a serious student of the instrument and imitating every song from every genre he heard until he had mastered it.

Quickly coming to be known as Little Milton—both because of his father's notoriety and the fact that he was just a young teen when he began to perform—the hungry, focused musician began to play throughout the South, wherever he could, including the street corners and back alley dives that likely gave him more of an education than he sometimes bargained for. He absorbed everything he could, and soon developed a rollicking stage presence that created a sensation wherever he played, attracting the attention of local promoters and record labels.

One musician who took a particular liking to Little Milton was a young Ike Turner, who would go on to have a sterling career of his own. Turner took Little Milton under his wing, encouraged him to move north to East St. Louis, and the pair became stars on the club circuit in that legendary blues town. Little Milton told music writer Andria Lisle, as quoted in Sing Out!, "[Ike] and I worked 12 to 15 dates a week up there, playing three or four gigs a day on the weekend. We'd play St. Louis, Missouri, where they had a curfew. Everything would close down at 2 a.m., and we'd head across the river to the Illinois side, where it was 24/7. We worked nonstop."

Distinguished Recording Career on Several Hallowed Labels

Turner also introduced Little Milton to Sun Records executive Sam Phillips in the early 1950s, around the time Phillips was developing the early career of another unknown prospect from Mississippi named Elvis Presley. He recorded his first single, "Beggin My Baby," in Memphis with Sun Records, but failed to distinguish himself at the label. He soon moved to Bob Lyons's Bobbin Records, recording several sides there, including his first hit, "I'm a Lonely Man," in 1958. He also began to emerge as a credible businessman with an eye for talent, bringing future stars Albert King and Fontella Bass to Bobbin as their A&R man.

Now a rising star in his own right, Little Milton was signed to the Checkers label under the ownership of the famed Chicago company Chess Records. From 1962 through 1969, when the label folded after the death of founder Leonard Chess, Little Milton's career blossomed at Checkers. His hit song "We're Gonna Make It" rose to number one on the R&B charts in 1965 and became an anthem of the civil rights movement. This kicked off a successful run of Top Ten R&B singles that included "Grits Ain't Groceries," "Baby I Love You," "Who's Cheating Who?," "If Walls Could Talk," and "Feel So Bad."

From Checkers, Little Milton moved to the Memphisbased Stax Records label for another productive six years, working alongside such 1970s-era R&B heroes as Albert King, Isaac Hayes, and Booker T. and the M.G.'s. His Stax hits included "Walkin' the Back Streets and Cryin'" and "That's What Love Will Make You Do." When Stax folded, Little Milton signed briefly with Miami-based TK/Glades Records, which also closed shop. In 1983 he had his only major label release album with Age Ain't Nothin But a Number on MCA.

In 1984 Little Milton returned home, literally and musically, when he began a three-decade relationship with Jackson, Mississippi-based Malaco Records, a label dedicated to keeping Southern soul and blues music alive. It was at Malaco that he recorded "The Blues is Alright," as well as such other blues standards as "Little Bluebird," "Annie Mae's Café," and "Comeback Kind of Love." His hit albums Cheatin Habit and Little Milton's Greatest Hits were among 14 albums he recorded at Malaco.

Legend Continued to Grow

Among the numerous awards and honors he received throughout his career, Little Milton was given the W.C. Handy Blues Award as Entertainer of the Year in 1988. He was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame that same year. His 1999 Malaco release, Welcome to Little Milton, a collection of duets featuring such artists as Lucinda Williams and Delbert McClinton, was nominated for a Grammy Award.

The album was a way for the blues great to extend his legacy, and his love for the blues, to a younger audience that troubled him in later years with its abandonment of traditional American roots music for new formats like hip-hop and rap. "People forget about their heritage," he lamented on BluesAccess.com. "I believe this is why you find so much crime, so much racial hatred and ignorance, because I don't think the kids are being taught the true values of life, of respect, of love, of commitment, of consideration and fair play for their fellow human being. They get so disgusted with the way things are and they just go out and do anything. They are in a turmoil of defiance…. Nobody's there to teach them."

He added, "I'm still a contributor…. I still love it, and I know as long as I can enjoy what I'm doing, there'll be no retiring." Always known as a breathtaking live performer, Little Milton remained a touring headline act until his final days. "The time that I'll retire is when they lay me down, fold my arms and y'all come by and say, 'That sorta look like him. Yeah, that's him!' Other than that, as long as God grants me the time on earth, I'm gonna enjoy doing what I'm doing."

Little Milton did continue to play and record. In April of 2005 he traveled to London to headline a Memphis blues festival, and the next month his album Think of Me was released to rave reviews. After having a stroke, Little Milton was visited in the hospital by longtime friend and producer, Greg Preston, who played Little Milton's music to him as he lay in a coma. In the Associated Press as captured by the Clarion-Ledger, Preston reflected on Little Milton's uncanny ability to draw great emotion from such a spare musical style. "Most guitar players, they think the more notes the better," Preston said. "Milton, B.B. (King), Albert King-their style was you make every note count. Because one note can touch an amazing amount of people. It's not how many you play or how fast you play, it's how you play that one note. That was his style."

Books

Nothing But the Blues, Edited by Lawrence Cohn, New York: Abbeville Press, 1993.

Sonnier, Austin Jr., A Guide to the Blues, Greenwood Press, 1990.

Periodicals

Billboard, August 20, 2005.

Clarion-Ledger (Mississippi), August 5, 2005.

Daily Variety, August 18, 2005.

Sing Out!, Winter 2005.

Online

"Biography of Little Milton," Little Milton Official Website, http://littlemilton.com (February 16, 2006).

"Open the Door and Welcome Little Milton!," BluesAccess, http://www.bluesaccess.com/no_41/milton.htm (December 10, 2005).

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Milton, Little 1934–

Little Milton 1934

Blues musician, guitarist

Purchased First Guitar

Learned Alt About the Btues

Influenced by a Legend

Selected Discography

Sources

Little Milton Campbell is a consummate blues musician. A performer known for his extraordinary technique, soulful voice, and unique blend of musical styles, Milton is also admired for his staying power. As a talented musician and shrewd businessman, he has been recording consistently for over 50 years. While Milton may not have developed a clearly identifiable sound, which may explain why he has never been considered a top forty favorite, he has managed to use his extraordinary musical skills to change with the times. Milton provides his audiences with contemporary music while staying true to his Mississippi Delta roots. Whether performing a solo with an acoustic guitar or playing an electric guitar backed by keyboard, bass, and drums, Little Milton is an authentic, grassroots blues artist.

In 1965 Milton recorded Were Gonna Make It, a song that hit home during the height of the Civil Rights Era. It remained number one on Billboard magazines R&B singles chart for many weeks. More than 30 years later he recorded a number of duets with a broad spectrum of contemporary performers such as the blues artist Keb Mo, country singer Lucinda Williams, and pop-rock artist G Love. An accomplished songwriter, Milton has written many well known songs, including Grits Aint Groceries and If Walls Could Talk. The song that helped define him as a blues legend was The Blues Is Alright, unofficially recognized as the International Blues Anthem. Over the years, his music has been recorded by many solo artists, including Traffic; Blood, Sweat & Tears; and Savoy Brown. In 1988 Little Milton was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame and won the W.C. Handy Award for Blues Entertainer of the Year.

Purchased First Guitar

Named after his father, Milton Campbell, a man who supported his family by farming and playing in local blues bands, James Milton Campbell came to be known as Little Milton. He was born in sharecropper housing just outside of the small town of Inverness, Mississippi, but was raised in Greenville, farther north on the Mississippi River. Milton grew up listening to his father and several other musicians play the regional, gospeltinged blues that evolved in the Mississippi Delta area during the first few decades of the 1900s. He also loved to listen to The Grand Ole Opry; on the radio, and

At a Glance

Born James Milton Campbell on September 7, 1934, in Inverness, MS; son of Milton and Pearl Campbell

Career: Blues musician, guitarist. Recorded for Sun, Bobbins, Chess, Stax, and Malaco Records. Songs include: Blind Man, Blues is Alright, Grits Aint Groceries, Hard Luck Blues, Im A Lonely Man, Little Bluebird, Whos Cheating Who?, Were Gonna Make It,

Awards: W.C Handy Award for Blues Entertainer of the Year, 1988; Blues Hall of Fame, inductee, 1988.

Address: Office CarniL Productions, 6608 Solitary Ave, Las Vegas, NV, 89110.

became familiar with the sounds country and western music at a young age.

His first guitar was as make-shift as one could gethe nailed some wires to the side of his house and plucked away. When Milton was about 12 years old, he picked cotton and did odd jobs around the neighborhood, scraping together enough money to send away for a Roy Rogers-style guitar he had seen in a mail-order catalogue. Pearl, his practical minded mother, expressed concern about Little Milton spending over $14 on a guitar. She demanded he send it back. Fortunately for die-hard blues fans, Big Milton intervened, and his son was allowed to keep the guitar. This episode was one that Milton teased his mother about for years to come. According to a Malaco Records biographical sketch, Milton once said to his mother, Mama, suppose I had taken that guitar back? She said, Boy, Im glad you didnt.

Learned Alt About the Btues

Once he had his guitar, Little Milton taught himself to play by watching and listening to other blues artists at picnics and house parties. He played anywhere he could, on street corners, in alleys, and at public gatherings. Within a few years, after acquiring a repertoire, he made his way into white honky tonks and black clubs in the Greenville area, often making a wage of $1.50 per night. Eventually, he ventured across the Mississippi River to Helena, Arkansas, where he played at local venues and occasionally sat in with legendary bluesmen Sonny Boy Williamson and Willie Love. In an biography written for bayblues.org, the website of the 2001 Endless Summer Blues Bash, Milton explained, I was just a kidI lied about my age and they gave me a gig. Willie Love liked what he heard, and he incorporated Milton into his band, Three Aces, with whom Milton made his first recording on the Trumpet label in 1951. While playing with Love, Milton attracted the attention of Ike Turner, who was a scout for Sun Records at the time. Sam Phillips, the owner of Sun Studio, signed Little Milton to the label in 1953, giving him his first major break. Unfortunately for Milton, around the time he recorded his debut single, Beggin My Baby, Phillips was working with a newcomer named Elvis Presley. In an essay entitled Bright Lights, Big City; Urban Blues, included in the book Nothing But the Blues, Mark A. Humphrey wrote, Milton had yet to find his style when he cut Alone and Blue in March 1954. Elviss first session was only four months away, and his success pointed Phillips in a different direction. By the years end, blues activity at Sun had virtually ceased. While with Sun and Sam Phillips, Milton remained a relatively obscure blues entertainer.

In 1957 Milton recorded one single for the Meteor label. He then moved to St. Louis, where he was befriended by Bob Lyons. Lyons, who worked at KATZ radio, was a big fan of the struggling bluesman. He soon agreed to set up remote broadcasts of Miltons local shows. Lyons also helped Milton record a demo, which was sent to well-known record labels. When Mercury Records turned down Miltons recording, the disgruntled pair decided to start their own label, Bobbins Records. While recording for the label, Milton also acted as business partner, an experience that taught him the management aspects of the music business. During the years he stayed with Bobbins, Milton managed to sign other blues artists such as Albert King and Fontella Bass; he also recorded several signature songs. The track Im a Lonely Man led to a distribution arrangement with Chess records, a major label based in Chicago. In 1961 Milton switched over to a Chess subsidiary, Checker Records. The decision brought him into the spotlight, and was responsible for introducing him to a wider audience. In 1969, after the death of Chess owner Leonard Chess, the company dissolved. Milton moved to Stax records, where he remained until the label went bankrupt in 1975. The next company he signed with, TK/Glade Records, also went out of business. Finally, Milton joined Malaco Records in 1984. He found a stable home at Malaco, and has remained with the label since, producing over 14 albums and becoming one of the labels biggest selling artists.

Influenced by a Legend

Little Miltons sound has been compared to a blend of B.B. King and Bobby Blue Bland. While growing up in Mississippi, a state that has produced many of the countrys legendary blues musicians, Milton had many role models and blues artists to emulate. However, it was the sound of the Texas-born blues guitarist T-Bone Walker that Milton claimed shaped his style the most. In an interview for Tower Records Pulse! magazine, Milton described the genesis of his guitar playing. He stated, Going back, my greatest influence was the late T-Bone Walker He made a great contribution to the way I felt I would like to play the blues. I dont play exactly like him. The only somebody I once wanted to play exactly like was T-Bone. But I was never able to duplicate him, although I was able to capture some of the meaningful things he did as a guitarist.

Many blues artists name their guitars; Little Milton is no exception. According to the website of Malaco Records, Milton considers his guitar, Bessie, to be his best friend, and he credits her for his success. Milton states, She never says no, she never gets sick, she makes me money, and shes always ready when I call on her. In an interview conducted at the King Biscuit Festival in Helena, Arkansas, Blues Access writers Jay Weiner and Alain Recaborde spoke to Milton about his long career and asked about his plans for retirement. Milton responded, The time that Ill retire is when they lay me down, fold my arms and yall come by and say, That sorta look like him. Yeah, thats him! Other than that, as long as God grants me the time on this earth, Im gonna enjoy doing what Im doing. Little Milton and Bessie will be playing the blues for years to come, which is great news for blues fans everywhere.

Selected Discography

Were Gonna Make It, Chess, 1965

If Walls Could Talk, MCA/Chess, 1970

Tin Pan Alley, Stax, 1975

Back To Back, Malaco, 1988

Im a Gambler, Malaco, 1994

Feel It, Malaco, 2001

Sources

Books

Sonnier, Austin Jr. A Guide to the Blues Westport CT: Greenwood Press, 1990.

Humphrey, David A. Bright Lights, Big City: Urban Blues. In Nothing But the Blues, edited by Lawrence Cohn. New York: Abbeville Press, 1993.

Periodicals

Chicago Tribune, April 8, 1996; December 17, 1996; January 10, 1997.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 30, 2001.

Washington Post, July 13, 1990.

On-line

www.allmusic.com

www.bayblues.org/bios/milton

www.bayfrontblues.com

www.bluesaccess.com/No_41/milton

www.blueflamecafe.com/Little_Milton

www.jsent.com/artists/littlemilton

www.littlemilton.com/biography

www.64.224.111.156.malaco/blues/littlem/main

Mississippi Writers and Musicians Project, www.shs.starkville.kl2.us

Pulse!, www.pulse.towerrecords.com

www.wchandyfest.com

Christine Miner Minderovic

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Milton, Little

Little Milton

1934-2005

Blues musician, guitarist

Little Milton Campbell was a consummate blues musician. A performer known for his extraordinary technique, soulful voice, and unique blend of musical styles, Milton was also admired for his staying power. A talented musician and shrewd businessman, he recorded and performed consistently for over 50 years. While Milton may not have developed the clearly identifiable sound of some of his peers, which may explain why he never became a "top forty" favorite, he managed to use his extraordinary musical skills to change with the times. Until his death in 2005, Milton provided his audiences with contemporary music while staying true to his Mississippi Delta roots. Whether performing a solo with an acoustic guitar or playing an electric guitar backed by keyboard, bass, and drums, Little Milton was an authentic, grassroots blues artist.

Milton first made it big in 1965, when he recorded "We're Gonna Make It," a song that hit home during the height of the Civil Rights Era. It remained number one on Billboard magazine's R&B singles chart for many weeks. More than 30 years later he recorded a number of duets with a broad spectrum of contemporary performers such as the blues artist Keb' Mo', country singer Lucinda Williams, and pop-rock artist G Love. An accomplished songwriter, Milton wrote many well known songs, including "Grits Ain't Groceries" and "If Walls Could Talk." The song that helped define him as a blues legend was "The Blues Is Alright," unofficially recognized as the "International Blues Anthem." Over the years, his music has been recorded by many solo artists, including Traffic; Blood, Sweat & Tears; and Savoy Brown. In 1988 Little Milton was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame and won the W.C. Handy Award for Blues Entertainer of the Year.

Scraped Together a Blue Style

Named after his father, Milton Campbell, a man who supported his family by farming and playing in local blues bands, James Milton Campbell was born on September 7, 1934, and came to be known as "Little Milton." He was born in sharecropper housing just outside of the small town of Inverness, Mississippi, but was raised in Greenville, farther north on the Mississippi River. Milton grew up listening to his father and several other musicians play the regional, gospel-tinged blues that evolved in the Mississippi Delta area during the first few decades of the 1900s. He also loved to listen to The Grand Ole Opry on the radio, and became familiar with the sounds of country and western music at a young age.

His first guitar was as make-shift as one could get—he nailed some wires to the side of his house and plucked away. When Milton was about 12 years old, he picked cotton and did odd jobs around the neighborhood, scraping together enough money to send away for a Roy Rogers-style guitar he had seen in a mail-order catalogue. Pearl, his practical minded mother, expressed concern about Little Milton spending over $14 on a guitar. She demanded he send it back. Fortunately for die-hard blues fans, Big Milton intervened, and his son was allowed to keep the guitar. This episode was one that Milton teased his mother about for years to come. According to a Malaco Records biographical sketch, Milton once said to his mother, "'Mama, suppose I had taken that guitar back?' She said, 'Boy, I'm glad you didn't.'"

Once he had his guitar, Little Milton taught himself to play by watching and listening to other blues artists at picnics and house parties. He played anywhere he could, on street corners, in alleys, and at public gatherings. Within a few years, after acquiring a repertoire, he made his way into white honky-tonks and black clubs in the Greenville area, often making a wage of $1.50 per night. Eventually, he ventured across the Mississippi River to Helena, Arkansas, where he played at local venues and occasionally sat in with legendary bluesmen Sonny Boy Williamson and Willie Love. In an biography written for Bay Blues, the Web site of the 2001 "Endless Summer Blues Bash," Milton explained, "I was just a kid—I lied about my age and they gave me a gig." Willie Love liked what he heard, and he incorporated Milton into his band, Three Aces, with whom Milton made his first recording on the Trumpet label in 1951. While playing with Love, Milton attracted the attention of Ike Turner, who was a scout for Sun Records at the time. Sam Phillips, the owner of Sun Studio, signed Little Milton to the label in 1953, giving him his first major break. Unfortunately for Milton, around the time he recorded his debut single, "Beggin' My Baby," Phillips was working with a newcomer named Elvis Presley. In an essay entitled "Bright Lights, Big City; Urban Blues," included in the book Nothing But the Blues, Mark A. Humphrey wrote, "Milton had yet to find his style…when he cut 'Alone and Blue' in March 1954. Elvis's first session was only four months away, and his success pointed Phillips in a different direction. By the year's end, blues activity at Sun had virtually ceased." While with Sun and Sam Phillips, Milton remained a relatively obscure blues entertainer.

Moved from Label to Label

In 1957 Milton recorded one single for the Meteor label. He then moved to St. Louis, Missouri, where he was befriended by Bob Lyons. Lyons, who worked at KATZ radio, was a big fan of the struggling bluesman. He soon agreed to set up remote broadcasts of Milton's local shows. Lyons also helped Milton record a demo, which was sent to well-known record labels. When Mercury Records turned down Milton's recording, the disgruntled pair decided to start their own label, Bobbins Records. While recording for the label, Milton also acted as business partner, an experience that taught him the management aspects of the music business. During the years he stayed with Bobbins, Milton managed to sign other blues artists such as Albert King and Fontella Bass; he also recorded several signature songs. The track "I'm a Lonely Man" led to a distribution arrangement with Chess records, a major label based in Chicago. In 1961 Milton switched over to a Chess subsidiary, Checker Records. The decision brought him into the spotlight, and was responsible for introducing him to a wider audience. In 1969, after the death of Chess owner Leonard Chess, the company dissolved. Milton moved to Stax records, where he remained until the label went bankrupt in 1975. The next company he signed with, TK/Glade Records, also went out of business. Finally, Milton joined Malaco Records in 1984. He then found a stable home at Malaco, remaining with the label until 2002, producing over 14 albums, and becoming one of the label's biggest selling artists. In 2005 Milton moved to the Telarc Blues label to release Think of Me, an album which offered Milton's characteristic mix of soul-blues mixed with traces of funk and country-and-western.

Little Milton's sound has been compared to a blend of blues legends B.B. King and Bobby Blue Bland. While growing up in Mississippi, a state that has produced many of the country's legendary blues musicians, Milton had many role models and blues artists to emulate. However, it was the sound of the Texas-born blues guitarist T-Bone Walker that Milton claimed shaped his style the most. In an interview for Tower Record's defunct Pulse! magazine, Milton described the genesis of his guitar playing. He stated, "Going back, my greatest influence was the late T-Bone Walker…He made a great contribution to the way I felt I would like to play the blues. I don't play exactly like him. The only somebody I once wanted to play exactly like was T-Bone. But I was never able to duplicate him, although I was able to capture some of the meaningful things he did as a guitarist."

At a Glance …

Born James Milton Campbell on September 7, 1934, in Inverness, MS; died August 4, 2005, in Memphis, TN; son of Milton and Pearl Campbell; married Pat Campbell; children: four.

Career:

Blues musician, guitarist, 1951-2005.

Awards:

W.C. Handy Award for Blues Entertainer of the Year, 1988; Blues Hall of Fame, inductee, 1988.

As a mid-level blues performer, Milton made a living by playing live concerts, and he kept up a consistent touring schedule right up until the time of his death. In 1987 he had told the Los Angeles Times that "They started calling me the master of the chitlin' circuit, but I love the chitlin' circuit. It keeps me eating and living the type of lifestyle I enjoy. It's been good to me.… I don't envy anybody. I'm gonna constantly keep doing what I'm doing, and I figure if it's [meant] for me, the recognition will come." Toward the end of his life, it seemed that his recognition might finally be arriving: his 1999 album Welcome to Little Milton earned him a Grammy nomination, and his 2005 album Think ofMe was greeted by positive reviews. On July 27, 2005, just a few months after the release of Think of Me, Milton suffered a massive stroke and he passed away a few days later, on August 4, 2005. Milton was survived by his wife, Pat Campbell; four children; and by his guitar, Bessie.

Selected discography

We're Gonna Make It, Chess, 1965.

If Walls Could Talk, MCA/Chess, 1970.

Tin Pan Alley, Stax, 1975.

Back To Back, Malaco, 1988.

I'm a Gambler, Malaco, 1994.

Welcome to Little Milton, Malaco, 1999.

Feel It, Malaco, 2001.

Think of Me, Telarc, 2005.

Sources

Books

Sonnier, Austin Jr., A Guide to the Blues, Greenwood Press, 1990.

Humphrey, David A., "Bright Lights, Big City: Urban Blues," in Nothing But the Blues, Lawrence Cohn, ed., Abbeville Press, 1993.

Periodicals

Chicago Tribune, April 8, 1996; December 17, 1996; January 10, 1997.

Los Angeles Times, August 6, 2005.

New York Times, August 5, 2005.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 30, 2001.

Washington Post, July 13, 1990.

On-line

Little Milton, www.littlemilton.com (October 10, 2005).

"Little Milton," AllMusic, www.allmusic.com (October 10, 2005).

"Little Milton," Bay Blues: Years Gone By, www.bayblues.org/ygb.html (October 10, 2005).

"Little Milton," Malaco, www.shopmalaco.com/Catalog/Blues-R-B/Little-Milton/list.php (October 10, 2005).

—Ashyia Henderson, Christine Miner Minderovic, and Tom Pendergast

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"Milton, Little." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Milton, Little." Contemporary Black Biography. . Retrieved August 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/milton-little