Who was/is Kid Thomas ? - CDs, Vinyl LPs, DVD and more
This sonic blast of lightning-bolt incandescence was the work of one Louis Thomas Watts, who called himself Kid Thomas anytime he was behind a mic. Kid blew up a storm on harmonica, wore a sky-high process hairdo piled on the top of his cranium, and exited this earth in a tragic burst of senseless violence.
Watts was born June 20, 1934 in Sturgis, Mississippi, though he lived in Chicago from the age of seven. There he learned the rudiments of harmonica from Little Willie Smith, later known as 'Big Eyes' when he played drums for Muddy Waters. Kid knocked around the South Side scene until he strolled into King Records' Chicago office in 1957 and sold A&R man Ralph Bass on what he had to offer. A slew of titles were committed to tape at his lone session (Smith played drums) but only one Federal single resulted, pairing The Wolf Pack and The Spell.
Around 1959, Thomas picked up stakes and relocated to Los Angeles. He intrigued veteran producer George Motola (co-composer of Jesse Belvin's '56 hit Goodnight My Love) enough to convince Motola to produce another single on him. The insane, totally out-of-control Rockin' This Joint To-nite, loaded with blistering amplified harp wails, was the result. The storming track and its in-the-alley session mate You Are An Angel ended up seeing light of day in 1960 on Brad Atwood's tiny TRC (it stood for Transcontinental Records Company, headquartered in Hollywood) label, with Atwood's name added to Kid's as co-writer (it has since been removed).
Rechristening himself Tommy Louis, the harp-blowing wildman made his next bow on wax in 1965 with The Hurt Is On b/w I Love You So for the Muriel logo, which also pressed up his crazed rocker Wail Baby Wail (guitarist Marshall Hooks goes nuts on his whammy bar) and its opposite side Lookie There , produced by M.E. Anka, the next year. Lloyd Glenn was on piano for his last 45 on Cenco in 1969, pairing Angel and Willow Brook. He was now billed as Tommy Lewis.
One record every few years and gigging on the L.A. blues circuit with his Rhythm Rocks didn't pay the bills, so Thomas copped a gig as a mower of lawns. On September 3, 1969, he was pulling away from a Beverly Hills residence that he'd just manicured when he accidentally ran over a 10-year-old boy riding a bicycle, killing the lad. A manslaughter indictment was dropped, but when Thomas went to court on charges of driving on a revoked license on April 5, 1970, the boy's distraught father waited outside the Beverly Hills courthouse and fatally shot the harpist pointblank when he came outside.
What a waste.
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