August 3, 2005

Bluesman ‘Little’ Milton in coma after stroke

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Blues musician "Little" Milton
Campbell, whose gritty vocals and songwriting recalls B.B.
King's rough-edged style, was in a coma after suffering a
stroke, a friend said on Wednesday.

The 71-year-old Grammy-nominated guitarist and singer known
for writing and recording the blues anthem "The Blues Is
Alright" suffered a stroke July 27 and lapsed into a coma at a
Memphis, Tennessee, hospital, friend Larry Chambers said in a
telephone interview.

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. It was the same year the Memphis studio recorded
Elvis Presley for the first time.

Discovered by blues-rock pioneer Ike Turner, Campbell has
gone 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 has never
achieved the fame of King and others in the genre. He has
traveled constantly, playing mid-sized clubs and arenas.

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. Most recently, he has recorded for
The Malaco Music Group in Jackson, Mississippi, for whom he
produced albums entitled "Your Wife is Cheating on Us," and his
last, "A Nickel and a Nail."

His wife, Patricia, was at his side, Chambers said from
Memphis. They have three children.