Milton Campbell, Jr.
- “The Blues is Alright”
- “Annie Mae’s Cafe”
- “Little Bluebird”
- “I’m at the End of My Rainbow”
- “Caught in the Act (Of Gettin’ it on)”
- “Your Wife is Cheating on Us”
- “My Dog and Me”
- “A Nickel and a Nail”
by Jeffrey Arnold (SHS)
Little Milton was a poor American farm boy from the Mississippi Delta (near Inverness), who made it big in the music business. It all began back on September 17, 1934, when Little Milton ( Milton Campbell, Jr.) was born. He was named after his father, Big Milton, who was a blues musician but only on a local basis. Little Milton was born and raised on a farm in the Delta. His father tried hard to provide for his family by farming the land and playing the blues around town. (Chicago Tribune)
As time went on, Little Milton earned enough to buy a guitar. In his middle teenage years he caught up with someone in the music business by the name of Ike Turner. Ike Turner was the man when it came to getting into the field at the time. Little Milton went with Ike Turner all around the Delta playing the blues. Then in 1953 when Little Milton was eighteen, he got his first big break. Ike Turner was going to introduce him to Sam Phillips of Sun Records. This was his big start, although it wasn’t until the late 1950’s that he really began to shine. It was in St. Louis at Bobbin Records where he wrote the songs I’m a Lonely Man and That Will Never Do that made Little Milton an established and prominent blues force. (Chicago Tribune)
About 1960 Little Milton switched labels and went to Checker Records. In 1965 he had a hit entitled We’re Gonna Make It. This song was perfectly timed to coincide with the struggle for Civil Rights. Having significant meaning for blacks at the time, this song was the first big hit of many to come. When the year 1971 came, Little Milton changed record labels again, this time to the Memphis-based Stax Record Company. Here he recorded a few more big hits. During his time there he recorded Annie Mae’s Cafe and Little Bluebird, two of his most memorable songs. His last and current recording company is Malaco Records in Jackson, Mississippi. Little Milton went there in 1984. While at Maleco, he wrote The Blues Is Alright, a song considered to be the blues anthem. Malaco Records puts him a lot closer to his Mississippi home. (Washington Post)
Little Milton has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the W. C. Handy 1988 Blues Entertainer of the Year. He was also inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in same year.
Little Milton currently has out at least five different collectible albums and over eight self -made albums. His latest album, I’m a Gambler, released in 1996, has been selling heavily. Now at the age of sixty-two Little Milton’s career has slowed, but not stopped. According to the Chicago Tribune, the slowing -down in sales of his albums is the result of a generation that doesn’t realize his prolific style of blues music.
In conclusion, Little Milton is truly a rags to riches story. He is a great example of how anybody, rich or poor, can excel in whatever they do if they just put their mind to it.
Little Milton died in 2005 at the age of 70.
- 1935 – Born in Mississippi Delta near Inverness
- 1953 – Signed at Sun Records
- 1965 – We’re Gonna Make It, first hit
- 1971 – Moved to Stax Records
- 1984 – Moved to Malaco Records
- 1988 – Won the W. C. Handy Blues Entertainer of the Year Award
- 1988 – Inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame, released Back to Back
- 1996 – Biographical article written in the Washington Post about him
- Little Milton’s official web site gives provides all kinds of information.
- Little Milton. The Guardian obituary, 2005
- Mississippi Blues Trail: Little Milton
- Dahl, Bill. Little Milton Doesn’t Need to Ride the Bandwagon to Keep Up. Chicago Tribune. January 10, 1997. 42:3.
- Dahl, Bill. Little Milton and Davis Show Thrill is Never Gone. Chicago Tribune. December 17, 1996. 2:5.
- Dahl, Bill. Blues Star Little Milton tries playing the other side of Town. Chicago Tribune. April 8, 1996. 1:5.
- Johnson, Eric. Milton and Mack Veterans of Blues. Washington Post. July 13, 1990. 26:3.