L. C. "Lightnin' Junior" Williams

Painted by Frank Graham

L.C. on I Want My Baby Back:

        L.C. Williams (center) makes a toast to his blues buddies while in Houston. Sam “Lightnin” Hopkins stands on the right.

My Darkest Hour, by L. C. Williams...

L. C. (Lightnin' Junior") Williams

Energetic and multi-talented, and now almost entirely forgotten, L. C. Williams was born in 1924, just ten miles north of Navasota in Brazos County in Millican, Texas.  Primarily a singer and drummer, he was also a gifted dancer. When just 25 years old, he recorded a huge local hit called “Ethyl Mae” for Freedom records and put the small Houston-based studio on the blues map.  L. C. followed this hit in 1950 with “Jelly Roll” and “My Darkest Hour,” two more Freedom hits that sealed his legacy as a recording artist.

L. C. soon became known as “Lightnin’ Junior,” because he often kept company with Lightnin’ Hopkins.  It was while accompanying L. C. Williams at Gold Star Studio that Hopkins recorded some of his most respected instrumental work on the guitar and piano, especially on the song “Trying, Trying,” which may indicate the regard the King of Texas Blues held for the young Millican native.  This may also have been a way to return a favor in kind, since Williams had backed him and even tap danced on some of his records.

L.C. Williams sings Louise:

But fame and financial success came excruciatingly slow.  The music buying public became more sophisticated and thus increasingly hard to impress. Record companies would release only the very best of a large stable of recording artists, combining them into one collection, hoping to increase sales, so all of his songs appeared on Blues compilations.  Even so, “Lightnin’ Junior” managed to record numerous releases, ultimately gracing the grooves of 17 albums.  Sadly, after ten years in the industry, he never saw an album released under his name.  It is said that he was consumed by alcoholism, and died of tuberculosis in Houston in 1960.  His music was silenced when just 36 years old.

Click below to hear You Never Miss the Water until the Well Goes Dry:

And a song with Lightnin' Hopkins on guitar- The Lazy J:

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