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‘ROCKIN TABBY’ THOMAS

Tabby ThomasSwamp Blues has the insistent, hypnotic rhythm that penetrates the listeners body like a virus and provokes inevitable symptoms like shuffling feet and swinging hips. ‘Rockin Tabby’ Thomas played guitar and piano, and sang his energetic Swamp Blues for over 50 years, becoming a legend in the Baton Rouge area, with his band, his record label, his club and his radio show, as well as his ‘chip off the ol’ block’ Chris Thomas King.

Ernest Joseph Thomas was born in 1929 in Baton Rouge LA. He spent most of his life as a young man in the Military, posted on the West-coast, but when he won a talent contest in San Francisco in 1959, the prize was a recording contract with Hollywood Records. ‘Midnight is Calling’ did not sell well, but when Tabby returned to Baton Rouge he formed a band called The Mellow, Mellow Fellows and recorded for several local labels including Feature, Rocko and Zynn before scoring a hit with ‘Voodoo Party’ for Excello Records in 1962. Tabby worked in the chemical industry to raise his family while gigging with the band, but by the late 60s he had almost retired from music. This quiet spell did not last long, however, as Tabby soon formed his own Blue Beat label to release his own product as well as providing a platform for other local talent in the Baton Rouge area.

Tabby’s 1962 hit ‘Voodoo Party’;

'Rockin' Tabby' Thomas Discography
Recorded live at Tabby’s Blues Box, a great skin-tight band backs Tabby as he shares this 15 track album with singer Annette Taborn.

ALONG THE BLUES HIGHWAY

Tabby had good head for business and opened his own club in the city, Tabby’s Blues Box and Heritage Hall in 1978. An early performer there was his son, who went on to his own career as the ‘preservationist yet futuristic’ Blues star Chris Thomas King, who literally followed in his father’s footsteps when they toured Europe together in the late 70s. Tabby found a loyal following over the pond, and visited many times in the next two decades. In 2002, Tabby was involved in a serious auto accident which affected his playing, but he continued to perform as a singer occasionally, but then a new career as a radio DJ opened up on Baton Rouge radio stations where he hosted a Blues programme. Sadly, Tabby passed away in his home-town on New Years day 2014, a few days shy of his 85th birthday.