Blues singer Rufus Thomas has died at the age of 84. Wel play back several songs and an interview from the 1997 Chicago Blues Festival. Thomas was best known for novelty dance tunes like Walking the Dog and Do the Funky Chicken. In 1953 Thomas recorded Bear Cat, the answer to Big Mama Thornton Hound Dog. It became Sun Recordsfirst hit. In the sixties, Thomas became one of the founding performers for Stax Records.
Also performing with Penn and Oldham, Rufus Thomas, the self-proclaimed world oldest teenager. He played an integral role in the success of major record labels in the nineteen-fifties, Sun Records and Stax Records. He celebrates his 80th birthday at the festival by playing with his son, Marvell Thomas.
Rufus Thomas was a Memphis-based disc jockey who helped promote black music throughout the south. He also became a recording artist and producer who wrote dozens of dance hits. Rock historian Ed Ward has this profile.