Get this crazy baby off my head!


Long John Hunter

Long John Hunter - Border Town Legend - 1996 - Alligator Records

Inspired by a 1953 B.B. King performance, Long John Hunter bought himself a guitar and embarked on a career in Texas Blues that only in the past few years has managed to generate national attention. With a slashing, precise lead style that belies his level of recognition, Hunter has remained in semi-obscurity, fashioning a fervent cult following out of the sweltering environs of his El Paso home. His gutsy vocals and full-on blues power attack came to vinyl fruition in 1996 with Border Town Legend, generally considered one of the high points of the Modern Blues era. © Mike McGuirk, http://uk.real.com/music/artist/Long_John_Hunter/

"The return of Long John Hunter is the Texas blues event of the decade." © Austin Chronicle

In the 1960s the great bluesman Long John Hunter had a decade-long residency at the Lobby Bar in Juarez, Mexico, paying his dues and honing his skills. He had a reputation for swinging from the rafters, or even walking around on them, playing guitar with his free arm. Born in Ringold, Louisiana, Hunter was raised in Arkansas, but it wasn't long before he ended up in Texas. It was here that he saw B B King, an inspirational night that set him firmly on the blues path. From the wild roadhouses of West Texas, a real Lone Star legend at the peak of his abilities. A great album of pure Texas blues, with a terrific group of back up musicians. This album is HR by A.O.O.F.C. Buy his great follow-up album, "Swinging from the Rafters" and give this guy the credit he deserves, and KEEP THE BLUES ALIVE!


T-Bone Intentions - Long John Hunter, Jonathan Foose
Ice Cold - Long John Hunter
Ole Red - Long John Hunter, Jonathan Foose, Deborah Jeter, Tary Owens
Marfa Lights - Long John Hunter, Jonathan Foose, Tary Owens
Nasty Ways - Johnny Nicholas, Long John Hunter, Jonathan Foose, Tary Owens
Grits Ain't Groceries - Titus Turner
Arkansas - Unknown
Rooster and the Hen - Long John Hunter, Jonathan Foose, Deborah Jeter, Tary Owens
Lone Star Shootout - Long John Hunter, Jonathan Foose, Tary Owens
Everybody Knows - Unknown
Road Hog - Long John Hunter
John's Funk - Long John Hunter


Long John Hunter (Guitar, Vocals)
Jack Andrews (Guitar)
Joe Kelley (Guitar, Rhythm Guitar)
Derek O'Brien (Guitar, Rhythm Guitar)
Michael Henry Martin (Rhythm Guitar))
Sarah Brown (Bass),
Dave Keown (Bass, Acoustic Bass)
D.B. Cooper (Organ)
Johnny Nicholas (Piano)
Kevin Taylor (Drums)
Martin Banks (Trumpet)
Keith Winking (Trumpet)
Mark "Kaz" Kazanoff (Tenor Sax)
Kaz Kazanoff (Tenor Sax)
Art Lewis (Tenor Sax)
Red Rails (Baritone Sax, Tenor Sax)
Hunter Hamonettes (Vocals)


For many years Long John Hunter played in clubs without much attention, but that time sweating it out in roadhouses has paid off. During that time, he developed a gutsy, forceful technique that was fully evident on his belated 1993 debut, Ride With Me. Although his second album, Border Town Legend, is a slicker, more accessible effort, Hunter hasn't lost any of his spicy, distinctive flavor. Working with a horn section, he still manages to make himself the most powerful element on the record -- both his guitar playing and his heated vocals ensure that. Furthermore, Hunter's songwriting is growing stronger. Out of the nine songs he has written or co-written for the album, he has contributed some first-rate tunes that might not stretch beyond generic conventions, but still are mighty fine. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide

In a time when the regional flavor of the blues is being diluted, guitar-slinger Long John Hunter is Texas Blues with a big ol' "T". Fame has eluded this legend of the Tex-Mex roadhouses for way too long and Border Town Legend is wicked redemption. From the first bristling notes of "T-Bone Intentions," you know you're in for a hot time. This CD is a flat-out party. Propelled by a crackerjack outfit of brassy horns, Hunter fires up a spicy mix of jump blues, soulful laments, and joyous rave-ups. "Ole Red" is a stone-cold butt-shaker, "Arkansas" is smoky, seductive R&B at its best, and no guitarist is left standing once the "Lone Star Shootout" has ended. Even more astonishing, all but one of these tracks are Hunter-penned originals. Make a run for Border Town Legend or die trying. © Genevieve Williams, © Amazon.com


For much too long, the legend of Long John Hunter has largely been a local one, limited to the bordertown region between El Paso, Texas and Juarez, Mexico. That's where the guitarist reigned for 13 years (beginning in 1957) at Juarez's infamous Lobby Bar. Its riotous, often brawling clientele included locals, cowboys, soldiers from nearby Fort Bliss, frat boys, and every sort of troublemaking tourist in between. Hunter kept 'em all entertained with his outrageous showmanship and slashing guitar riffs. The Louisiana native got a late start on his musical career. When he was 22 and toiling away in a Beaumont, TX box factory, he attended a B.B. King show and was instantly transfixed. The next day, he bought a guitar. A year later, he was starring at the same bar that B.B. had headlined. Hunter's 1954 debut single for Don Robey's Houston-based Duke label, "She Used to Be My Woman"/"Crazy Baby," preceded his move to El Paso in 1957. Along the way, Phillip Walker and Lonnie Brooks both picked up on his licks. But Hunter's recording output was slim -- a few hot but obscure singles waxed from 1961 to 1963 for the tiny Yucca logo out of Alamogordo, NM (standouts include "El Paso Rock," "Midnight Stroll," and "Border Town Blues"). Perhaps he was just too busy -- he held court at the Lobby seven nights a week from sundown to sunup. Fortunately, Hunter's reputation is finally outgrowing the Lone Star state. His 1992 set for the now-shuttered Spindletop imprint, Ride With Me, got the ball rolling. Now, his 1996 disc for Alligator, Border Town Legend, should expose this Texas blues great to a far wider (if not wilder) audience than ever before. © Bill Dahl, All Music Guide


46 years ago a young guitar player by the name of Irving Charles took his friend John Hunter to see B.B. King perform in Beaumont, Texas. They each paid $1.50 for the show that was to be a major turning point in Long John Hunter's life. As Hunter relates, "I went to see B.B. King and I just said man oh man, I've got to learn how to play the guitar. So this was Wednesday night, Thursday I went and bought me a guitar and Friday I played a gig (laughs). It was awful. It was really sick. Well, we didn't have but a few people there, we played for the door and the three of us (2 guitars and a drum) we made $2.50 a piece. Man we was in the cash. (This was) big bucks here playing music. Thank God I have never been out of work since then as far as music goes. I never made any money to any amount but I've always been lucky to have some work to do." The legend of Long John Hunter was born. It was just a few years later, in 1957, that Long John started a regular gig just across the border from El Paso in Juarez, Mexico that lasted more than a decade. He played at a popular club called the Lobby Bar in Juarez from sundown to sunup. John said with a laugh, "that was a party from 8 o'clock 'til 'please go home ya-all' in the morning." John's second album on Alligator Records, called "Swinging From The Rafters" is a direct reference to some of his antics at the Lobby Bar in Juarez. I asked him about that album cover that shows him swinging from a rafter with his guitar in the other hand. He said, "yeah, I don't feel like doing that much these days. I'm about 100 pounds heavier and 40 years older. I still do crazy things but I don't swing from the rafters, I really don't have any to swing from. That really got a lot of attention when I started doing it though. It just happened too, I wasn't looking for it, it was just a crazy thing to do while performing. I thought, 'this ain't too high up here', the bandstand was about 'so high' and that made the ceiling a good reach for me. I just reached way out and got one (rafter) and swung way out. The dance floor was right out in front of the bandstand and I was up over the people's heads swinging there on one hand and playing the guitar with the other. They just went crazy. So it was just a thing I had to do 2 or 3 times a night after that first time." Born in Louisiana on July 13, 1931 Hunter moved to Arkansas when he was three. He said he "picked a lot of cotton and plowed a lot with mules." When he was 22 his family moved to Beaumont, Texas about which he said, "I just got excited when I went to Beaumont. It was the first town I had ever been in that was of any size. The little towns I had seen in Arkansas were just little one stop towns." He said he was 23 before he ever thought about playing music. "In Arkansas all I heard was country music, Hank Snow, Hank Williams, something like that. I wasn't too musically inclined, I still ain't, I just make a lot of noise and get away with it. I hadn't heard any music but a little country and western. We didn't have nothin' but a radio. And it ran off a car battery. We'd listen to the radio for 2 weeks and then for 2 weeks we didn't have a radio because at that time it took 2 weeks to charge the battery up to be ready for the next 2 weeks of radio (laughs.)" Long John made is first appearance in the Twin Cities last summer (July 23, 1998 at Famous Dave's) and his fans were looking forward to his return engagement. He started out the first set with a couple of funky numbers to warm things up. And after doing "Kansas City" and "Shake Rattle and Roll" he made his way out into the audience and began to ham it up. He is a low-keyed player, not real wild like he used to be in his early days but you can still see hints of that wildness. And he still is a master at working the audience (a trait he learned from his years at the Lobby Bar in Juarez.) He proceeded to pick out one of the ladies sitting up front and handed her his guitar. He had her strum it while he continued to finger the fretbord with his left hand picking out the melody of the song. He hasn't lost his touch at pleasing the crowd. He sure was swinging by this time, maybe not from the rafters but pretty close. Back up on stage he said the crowd likes to dance to familiar tunes as he launched into the James Brown "I Feel Good" lyrics. His first set lasted nearly 2 hours which is nothing I guess compared to when he was used to playing all night long. Hunter's guitar style has a raw, Texas blues sound to it. Not too flashy but played with a feeling. There is a little bit of Albert Collins but mostly his style reminds me of the early B.B. King and Jimmy Dawkins -- playing single note solos followed by short breaks where he sings. I asked him who his influences were and he said, "I like all kinds of music and I like all kinds of musicians but B.B. King was my total influence on me trying to be a musician. I mean totally. I like all kinds of musicians. I like Lonnie Brooks, Phillip Walker, Little Milton, everybody, I'm just a music lover. But for an inspiration B.B. was it. I met him for the first time in 1961, in Midland, Texas. He had a show and I was playing an after hour thing when he came down about 2 A.M. and played my guitar until 6 in the morning. We had breakfast and we had a great time talking about how he got started, how tough it was and all that kind of stuff. Just a great guy." Knowing Hunter was from Texas I had to ask him if he ever meet Buddy Holly? He said, "I met Buddy once but didn't know who he was at the time; after one of my shows in Juarez. He came up one night and said he was fixin' to leave for California and said, 'I just wanted to shake your hand Long John , my name is Buddy Holly.' Well at that time it was just a name because you meet all kinds of people all the time. And he shook hands and said, 'you don't know who I am but I've been here quite a few nights listening to you and I've enjoyed it. I'm a musician myself even though we play a little different style of music. But I'm leaving tomorrow for California and I just wanted to shake your hand and maybe I'll see you down the road.' Well I shook his hand and didn't think anymore about it. A few weeks after it happened I heard that name on the radio, Buddy Holly. I said, Buddy Holly? I shook hands with this guy the other night. I though he was just somebody like the other hundreds of guys that shook my hand and say I'm so and so and I play music, and I do this, you know. And after a while he was a household name. That was the first and only time I seen him." Talking about his buddies from back in Texas in the 1950's he said he was going to have a recording session in the near future reuniting Lonnie Brooks (known as Lee Baker and Guitar Junior back then), Phillip Walker, and Irving Charles. That will be one fun recording session. Long John Hunter has three albums out on Alligator Records. Ride With Me (1998, but recorded in 1992), Swinging From The Rafters (1997) and Border Town Legend (1996); all excellent examples of his work. This review is copyright © 1999 by Ray Stiles and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.