Born Under a Bad Sign- Albert King (1967), Bo Diddley – 500% More Man (1963), Jimmy Reed – Big Boss Man (1960), etc.


“‘Born Under a Bad Sign’ is a blues song recorded by American blues singer and guitarist Albert King in 1967. Called ‘a timeless staple of the blues’, the song also had strong crossover appeal to the rock audience with its synchronous bass and guitar lines and topical astrology reference. ‘Born Under a Bad Sign’ became an R&B chart hit for King, and numerous blues and other musicians have made it perhaps the most recorded Albert King song. The lyrics to ‘Born Under a Bad Sign’ were written by Stax Records rhythm and blues singer William Bell with music by Stax bandleader Booker T. Jones (of Booker T. & the M.G.’s). Bell recalled, ‘We needed a blues song for Albert King … I had this idea in the back of my mind that I was gonna do myself. Astrology and all that stuff was pretty big then. I got this idea that [it] might work.’ The lyrics describe ‘hard luck and trouble’ tempered by ‘wine and women’, with wordplay in the chorus in the turnaround:

Born under a bad sign, been down since I began to crawl
If it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have no luck at all

Similar lyrics are found in Lightnin’ Slim‘s 1954 swamp blues song ‘Bad Luck Blues’:

Lord if it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have no luck at all (2×)
You know bad luck has been followin’ poor Lightnin’, ever since I began to crawl
Now folks I was born in the last month of the year

Jones’s arrangement for the song does not follow the typical twelve-bar blues I-IV-V progression. Rather, it is dominated by an R&B-style bass/rhythm guitar line, which Bell claimed that he came up with ‘while fooling around on the guitar’. Albert King provided his signature guitar fills around his vocals and solos during the break and outro, with backing by Booker T. & the M.G.’s and the Memphis Horns. …”
Wikipedia, YouTube: Albert King – Born Under A Bad Sign
YouTube: Bo Diddley – 500% More Man, LOUISIANA RED – Ride On Red, Ride On, Jimmy Reed – Big Boss Man, Eddie “Blues Man” Kirkland – Chill me baby, Magic Sam – Mama, Mama Talk To Your Daughter, Slim Harpo – Shake Your Hips, Betty James – Help Me To Find My Love, Lazy Lester – I’m So Tired, She Drives Me Out of My Mind by Arthur K. Adams

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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