Little Milton Obituary
September 7, 1934 - August 4, 2005
by Bob Putignano
Goldmine Magazine

Little Milton September 7, 1934 - August 4, 2005 Little Milton passed away a few weeks prior to his 71st birthday, several days after suffering a massive stroke. Milton was one of the first bluesmen who successfully incorporated soul into his unique brand of blues—a mixture that helped make him one of the biggest-selling bluesmen of the '60s.

Ike Turner introduced Little Milton to Sam Phillips, who signed him to Sun Records in 1953. In 1958, the St. Louis–based Bobbin label singles by Milton attracted attention, especially "I'm a Lonely Man" which sold 60,000 copies. As head of A&R, Milton signed Albert King and Fontella Bass to Bobbin. In 1961 Milton moved to the Chess subsidiary, Checker; it was there that he defined soul-injected blues. In 1965 Milton’s "We're Gonna Make It," hit number one on the R&B charts, kicking off a successful run of R&B singles that reached the Top Ten: "Who's Cheating Who?," "Grits Ain't Groceries," "If Walls Could Talk," "Baby I Love You," and "Feel So Bad," amongst others.

In 1971 Milton signed with Stax where he expanded his soulful vocals more than traditional blues, and the hits continued with songs like "Annie Mae's Cafe," "Little Bluebird," "That's What Love Will Make You Do," and "Walkin' the Back Streets and Cryin'." In 1984 Milton moved to Malaco and debuted with the song that would become his (and the blues’) anthem "The Blues Is Alright.” Milton recorded 13 albums for Malaco, and in 1988 he won the W.C. Handy Award for Blues Entertainer of the Year and was appropriately inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame.

Earlier this year Milton delivered what turned out to be his final album recorded for Telarc “Think of Me.” But his last studio recording is the single “I Ain’t Got You” which appeared on “Fins, Chrome and the Open Road” -- 21 songs about the Cadillac on

I had the good fortune to meet and interview Milton several times over the years, and he was a kind and caring gentleman who was always thankful for the exposure; I was too. The last time I interviewed Milton was just prior to the Legends of Blues show in NYC in January 2005. That show included James Cotton, Robert Lockwood, Honeyboy Edwards, Buddy Guy, John Mayer, Warren Haynes, Pinetop Perkins, Jody Williams, and Freddie Robinson (who told me that if he could sing like Milton- he wouldn’t need to play guitar.) Many in attendance at Lincoln Center agreed that Milton was the highlight of the night, myself included.

Not only was Milton a great singer, but his guitar playing was such that every time I saw him he always found that sweet spot where he raised the intensity of the performance and sent chills down my back.

Thanks to Little Milton Campbell the blues will always be alright, and his legacy will rightfully remain intact for many decades to come.

Bob Putignano
President NY Blues & Jazz, and radio
host @ WFDU’s, “Sounds of Blue”