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Lost Legends Of Rhythm & Blues: Barbara Lynn

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Barbara Lynn has sadly been overlooked over her outstanding 40-year musical career. Despite reaching the #1 spot on the R & B charts and #8 on the Pop charts with her hit “You’ll Lose A Good Thing” in 1962, Barbara has never achieved the notoriety or sucess of such R&B chanteuses as Etta James.

Born Barbara Lynn Ozen in Beaumont, TX in 1942, she picked up the guitar as a teenager. Inspired by early R’N’R, bluesmen such as Jimmy Reed & Guitar Slim, early girlie pop (Connie Francis, Brenda Lee) and the swamp pop sounds of East Texas/Louisiana, Barbara was leading her own band (Bobbie Lynn & the Idols) before she was out of high school.

She was discovered by swamp pop great Joe Barry (“I’m A Fool To Care”) who facilitated her introduction to infamous producer Huey Meaux (rhymes w/ GO). Meaux was instrumental in getting her a deal with Jamie Records who released her first and biggest 45 “You’ll Lose A Good Thing” and subsequent LP of the same name. By the way, that LP will set you back a cool $100 or so these days. It’s also worth all that hard-earned green.

Still on the subject of “YLAGT”: It is featured to great effect in the soundtrack of John Waters movie “Hairspray” and has been covered many times. My favorite versions other than Barbara’s, being by blind Memphis soul singer Israel Tolbert (“Big Leg Woman W/ A Short, Short Mini-Skirt”) and the unsung soooooooouuuuul great Little Royal (“Jealous”). “YLAGT” is an achingly beautiful ballad, striking a perfect balance between New Orleans R&B and Gulf Coast Swamp Pop. It’s truly great stuff for turning down the lights and going on a tender bender with your favorite girl or guy.

Barbara scored again in 1965 with “You’re Gonna Need Me” (#13-R & B Charts) and “Oh Baby(We Got A Good Thing Goin)” which was covered by The Stones on their second US Release: “Rolling Stones Now.” Switching labels in 1966 to Tribe (one of Huey Meauxs many labels) she cut the soul classic “You Left The Water Running” better known to most soul aficionados by the Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett versions. A bootleg Euro 45 of Otis’s take on this was available for many years before being officially released on the Otis Redding Box Set. Her last major chart entry was in 1971: “(Until Then) I’ll Suffer” (R&B Charts #31) on Atlantic Records.

Frustrated by lack of label support, grueling tours and changing times, Barbara dropped out of music for the most part during the 1970’s and 1980’s. Touring only occasionally and mostly regionally, she instead concentrated on raising a family and supporting herself outside of music.

Barbara Lynn returned to the music scene in the 80’s releasing an LP: “You Don’t Have To Go” on Ichiban Records, recorded while on an 1984 tour of Japan. She has been touring regularly since then and releasing new music on Blues labels such as “Antones” and “Bullseye,” building up her fan base both here and abroad. She was a headliner at this years Ponderosa Stomp in N’Awlins and from what I have heard from friends down there she was nothing short of phenomenal.

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