Lightnin' Hopkins Finally Wins a Grammy

The dedication of the Lightnin' Hopkins historical marker in Third Ward in November 2010
The dedication of the Lightnin' Hopkins historical marker in Third Ward in November 2010
Photo by Matthew Keever

It took the Texas Historical Society long enough to appropriately recognize Houston bluesman Lightnin' Hopkins, but not as long as the Grammys.

As part of the run-up to Sunday night's 55th annual Grammy Awards, its governing body the Recording Academy announced that Hopkins, who died in 1982, will receive a 2013 award for Lifetime Achievement.

Wednesday, the Grammys released a statement under the byline of Texas blues musicians Doyle Bramhall Jr. and Gary Clark Jr.:

To understand the importance of Sam Lightnin' Hopkins requires a look at Texas blues itself. Texas, often referred to as a "country within a country," stays true to its reputation as a century-long hotbed for the blues alongside Mississippi and Chicago.

Its style: wide-open, flashy, dangerous, rule-bending, and always swinging. Its lineage staggeringly rich: Blind Lemon Jefferson, Blind Willie Johnson, Lead Belly, Mance Lipscomb, Lightnin' Hopkins, T-Bone Walker, Lil' Son Jackson, Freddie King, Larry Davis, Johnny "Guitar" Watson, Pee Wee Crayton, Albert Collins, Johnny Copeland, Johnny Winter, Billy Gibbons, Jimmie and Stevie Ray Vaughan, and many others.

Lightnin' Hopkins Finally Wins a Grammy

A Lifetime Achievement Grammy is traditionally the Recording Academy's way of saying "oops," and recognizing artists it may have overlooked during their lifetimes, a distinguished list that also includes Hank Williams Sr., Frank Sinatra, the Rolling Stones and Dolly Parton. This year's other recipients are Glenn Gould, Charlie Haden, Carole King, the Temptations, and a pair of performers who have recently passed away, Patti Page and Ravi Shankar.

Ringo Starr has already congratulated Hopkins and Haden (who is still alive and has won four Grammys) on Twitter. This year's Grammys telecast will be shown live in Houston on KHOU (Channel 11), begins at 7 p.m.

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