60s Oldies Music

The Story of Barbara Lynn

Barbara Lynn
Barbara Lynn at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (SoCo Blues Tent). (Source: Wikipedia)

Introduction
Barbara Lynn (Ozen) is a Texan-born R&B guitarist and singer-songwriter. She learned to play piano, but got hooked up with guitar as she was growing up. Soon she was performing in local clubs around Texas, and as she got signed to Jamie Records, she recorded “You’ll Lose A Good Thing”, which she wrote with record producer Huey P. Meaux. It became a hit in 1962. Lynn is quite extraordinary, especially during her heyday, for being an African-American singer who has penned most of her own songs, wields a lead instrument, and plays the guitar left-handed. Soon she found herself touring with other premiere R&B/soul artists (Stevie Wonder, Dionne Warwick, Smokey Robinson, B.B. King, and many others). She retired shortly after entering marriage and family life, as well as expressing dissatisfaction towards her label’s handling of her career. However, she played occasionally in Los Angeles, where she was still living then. Lynn resumed recording and touring after the death of her husband, and returned to her hometown in Beaumont, Texas.

 

Early days
American rhythm and blues and electric blues guitarist, singer and songwriter Barbara Lynn, born Barbara Lynn Ozen (later Barbara Lynn Cumby) was born on 16 January 1942 in Beaumont Texas. Before Lynn became recognized as a rhythm and blues singer/guitarist/songwriter during the 1960’s, she first learned playing the piano and later on shifted to guitar which she plays quite well. She was also left-handed that made her unique during her heyday. When Lynn was still in high school, she formed a band named Bobbie Lynn And The Idols and has won a handful of talent shows in her local town.

Active music career
Even though she was still under-age, Lynn started performing in the local clubs and jukebox joints in Texas. She was discovered by singer Joe Barry who caught Lynn in one of her live performances and later endorsed her to producer Huey P. Meaux aka Crazy Cajun who also managed SugarHill Recording Studios. In 1962, with the permission of her parents, Lynn went to New Orleans to enter the recording studio. At the legendary Cosimo’s Studio, her first single “You’ll Lose A Good Thing (co-written by her and Meaux) was recorded and subsequently released by Jamie Records. It became a big hit and peaked #1 in US Billboard R&B chart and was a #8 on the Billboard Hot 100. Also released that year was her first album (also called You’ll Lose a Good Thing) which consists of her 10 original compositions among its 12 tracks.

In 1965 Lynn recorded her follow-up singles “You’re Gonna Need Me” and “Oh Baby (We Got a Good Thing Goin’)” (later redone with The Rolling Stones in 1965) which became minor hits. After a year, Lynn signed a contract with Meaux’s Tribe label and released “You Left The Water Running” which was later covered by Otis Redding. The following year, she left Tribal Label and moved to Atlantic wherein she had another album Here Is Barbara Lynn, which included her last hit “(Until Then) I’ll Suffer.”

Family life, and comeback to the music scene
By that time, Lynn was already a mother of three children. She had her first marriage at the age of 28. She later retired from the music industry for most of the 1970’s and 1980’s. However, Lynn still occasionally played at local clubs in Los Angeles, where she and her family had moved that time.

She made a comeback in 1984, did a tour in Japan for the first time and released the live album, You Don’t Have To Go which later issued in the US by Ichiban. After the death of her husband, Lynn returned to her hometown and and went back in recording. For the first time in 20 years Lynn released her first studio album on Bullseye Blues label, So Good, in 1994. She followed this with Until Then I Suffer in 1996. Lynn received the Pioneer Award by the Rhythm and Blues Foundation in 1999. In 2000, she cut “Hot Night Tonight” along with her son.