Barbara Lynn

Can you imagine the wide swath Barbara Lynn Ozen must have cut throughout the Gulf Coast during the '60s! In addition to her smoky and smouldering vocals, Lynn also played left-handed electric guitar. As if that wasn't enough to distinguish her from the competition, she also wrote a lot of her own material. Even today, a statuesque, soulful, black, southpaw, songwriting, singer-electric guitarist would immediately stand out so just imagine the attention Barbara much have attracted 30-35 years back! ~ Demon Music Group

Barbara Lynn Bio

A Beaumont native, Barbara never wanted to be anything but an entertainer. Born January 16, 1942, she started learning her craft on a cheap Arthur Godfrey ukelele and was leading her own regional band before she graduated from high school in 1960. Nicknamed "the black Elvis" by friends, Lynn was nurtured by Clarence "Bon Ton" Garlow, a local bluesman and DJ, Lynn also developed songwriting as well as guitar and vocal chops. By 1962 she and Garlow attracted the attention of Huey Meaux, who saw her perform at the Ten Acre Club outside Beaumont. Meaux brought her to Cosimo Matassa's studio in New Orleans with Matassa recalling for Goldmine, "Huey was sort of like a cheerleader more than a real producer".
Once the recordings were made, Meaux was more in his element, hustling a deal with various "indie" labels. According to Matassa, Meaux unfortunately failed to connect so Cosimo worked out a deal with Harry Finfer at Jamie Records. The first single, Barbara's own "You'll Lose A Good Thing", topped the R&B charts and raced to #8 on the pop Top Forty in the summer of 1962. She had several additional pop charters that year, in 1963 and in 1964 when the Rolling Stones covered her "Oh Baby (We Got A Good Thing Goin')", a modest hit for Lynn though it lasted two months on the charts.
It's amazing that, with such credentials established before her 23rd birthday, Barbara Lynn didn't become a superstar but for some reason she missed her train to glory. Black artists, much less female black artists, faced nearly insurmountable social problems in the early '60s; in addition the music business was loaded with sharp operators. Perhaps Lynn never secured competent and effective management. In any case, instead of becoming a household name who released an album every year or so, Lynn's recorded output from 1962 to 1986 is limited to her debut album on Jamie and a 1968 "comeback" effort on Atlantic (“Here Is Barbara Lynn”), source of her last pop chart entry, "This Is The Thanks I Get", in 1969.
And then, at the age of 27, Barbara Lynn dropped off the radar screen of chart records, major labels, hit singles and national exposure. Though she got a ray of hope in 1976 when Freddy Fender returned "You'll Lose A Good Thing" to the pop (#36) and country (#1) charts, she was unable to capitalize on that success. She continued to perform in clubs, primarily in Texas and Louisiana but didn't record again until 1986, making the live album, “We Got A Good Thing Goin' “(Dead Ball Records) during Japanese dates. In 1988 she released “You Don't Have To Go” on Ichiban, with that label then issuing “So Good” and “The Atlantic Years” in 1994. Any of these recordings are worth seeking out, see if you don't also feel she's one of the unsung heroines of the music world!
Though this set is missing both of her best known songs, it nevertheless presents a good picture of a versatile soul-blues singer on top of her form. In addition to showcasing some of her own material, the Crazy Cajun Sessions from the early '70s also feature Lynn renditions of such hits as The Casinos' "Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye"" and Hank Williams' timeless "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" as well as "Daddy Hot Stuff", a selection obviously influenced by Jean Knight's 1971 pop hit, "Mr. Big Stuff".
Unfortunately the deadline for these notes arrived before the documentation for these recordings so these notes do not include session credits, recording dates and songwriter identification. This vital data will be available for use in later Edsel compilations created from the amazing treasure trove of Huey Meaux's Crazy Cajun archives. So, for now, just sit back and enjoy the work of Barbara Lynn, "the black Elvis", a vastly underrated artist from the fertile Gulf Coast!

~John Lomax III, September 1998