Tox Tunes #86: Let’s Go Get Stoned (Big Mama Thornton)

August 24, 2014, 10:10 pm

Big Mama Thornton (1926-1984) was a powerful rhythm and blues singer who recorded and/or wrote a number of songs that were big hits for other artists. “Let’s Go Get Stoned” — written by Nickolas Ashford, Valerie Simpson, and Josephine Armstead — went to the top of th eR&B charts when Ray Charles released his version in 1966. Thornton recorded Leiber and Stoller’s song “Hound Dog” in 1952. It was popular, but not the monster hit Elvis Presley had with the song in 1956.

Thornton recorded her own song “Ball and Chain” in the early 1960s. Her career got a boost after the then little-known Janis Joplin stunned the audience at the 1967 Monterrey Pop Festival with an electrifying performance of the song. Unfortunately, as so often happened in those days, Thornton did not have rights to the song and thus earned no royalties when it was included on Joplin’s second album Cheap Thrills, released in 1968.

Here’s Joplin’s transcendent Monterrey Pop performance:

And here’s Big Mama’s original version of the song:

 

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