DEAD: ON THIS DATE
Big Mama Thornton (aged 57)
American rhythm and blues singer and songwriter
Willie Mae Thornton (December 11, 1926 – July 25, 1984), better known as Big Mama Thornton, was an American rhythm-and-blues singer and songwriter. She was the first to record Leiber and Stoller’s”Hound Dog”, in 1952, which became her biggest hit, staying seven weeks at number one on the Billboard R&B chart in 1953 and selling almost two million copies. Thornton’s other recordings included the original version of “Ball ‘n’ Chain”, which she wrote.
DEATH: Thornton was found dead at age 57 by medical personnel in a Los Angeles boarding house on July 25, 1984. She died of heart and liver disorders due to her longstanding alcohol abuse. She had lost 355 pounds (161 kg) in a short time as a result of illness, her weight dropping from 450 to 95 pounds (204–43 kg).