Houston Music

All Hail "The Thunderbird"

Note Peacock stamp at the bottom.

Eminent local blues scholar Dr. Roger Wood e-mailed Rocks Off this morning with an unexpected discovery he made while listening to the Never Ever Land International Artists compilation I wrote about last week:

"Here's the big surprise it yielded for me:

On the third ("Pot Pourri") disc, track number 4 is credited to Big Walter. Upon hearing it, I am certain that the singer/pianist is Big Walter "The Thunderbird" Price - probably the oldest surviving blues singer from Peacock Records.

Price in more recent years
He was born in either 1914 or 1917 (either way, he's in his 90s), and he scored a mid-50s hit with Peacock with the song "Pack Fair and Square" (which, btw, I first heard - and dug - as covered by the J. Geils Band on its early-'70s Full House Live album). I did a 1997 cover story interview with Walter for Living Blues [magazine], and of course, he is featured in Down In Houston [Wood's 2003 local blues tome]. We are good buddies.

Anyway, it blows my mind to learn that Walter recorded for IA. I knew about the Free Form Patterns LP that IA produced with Lightnin' Hopkins (at Gold Star Studio), but I had no idea that Walter (who was a good friend of Lightnin's) also recorded for the company."

Wood wrote an article for the Press marking Price's 87th birthday in 2001. And believe it or not, the venerable bluesman even has a MySpace page, where you can hear "Pack Fair and Square." Check it out. - Chris Gray

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Chris Gray has been Music Editor for the Houston Press since 2008. He is the proud father of a Beatles-loving toddler named Oliver.
Contact: Chris Gray