Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton (December 11, 1926 – July 25, 1984) was an American rhythm and blues singer and songwriter. She was the first to record the hit song "Hound Dog" in 1952. The record was #1 on the Billboard R&B charts for seven weeks in 1953; the single sold almost two million copies. Its B-side was "They Call Me Big Mama." Three years later, Elvis Presley recorded his even more broadly successful rendition of "Hound Dog," based on a version performed by Freddie Bell and the Bellboys. Similarly, Thornton wrote and recorded "Ball 'n' Chain", which became a hit for her, yet Janis Joplin's later recording of it made a bigger impact in the late 1960s.
Lyrics for songs by Big Mama Thornton: