The Story of R&B Guitarist Barbara Lynn


Barbara Lynn (Ozen) is a Texan-born R&B guitarist and singer-songwriter. Initially learning to play the piano, she became enamored with the guitar as she grew up. Performing in local clubs around Texas, Lynn eventually signed with Jamie Records and recorded “You’ll Lose A Good Thing,” which she co-wrote with producer Huey P. Meaux.

The song became a hit in 1962. Lynn stood out, especially in her prime, as an African-American singer who wrote most of her songs, played the lead instrument, and performed left-handed guitar. She toured with notable R&B and soul artists such as Stevie Wonder, Dionne Warwick, Smokey Robinson, and B.B. King.

After getting married and starting a family, Lynn retired from the music scene, dissatisfied with her label’s handling of her career. However, she occasionally performed in Los Angeles, where she lived. Following her husband’s death, Lynn resumed recording and touring, eventually returning to her hometown in Beaumont, Texas.

Early Days

Barbara Lynn, born Barbara Lynn Ozen (later Barbara Lynn Cumby), was born on January 16, 1942, in Beaumont, Texas. Before gaining recognition as a rhythm and blues singer, guitarist, and songwriter in the 1960s, she learned to play the piano and later switched to the guitar, which she played exceptionally well.

Her left-handed guitar playing made her unique. While still in high school, Lynn formed a band named Bobbie Lynn and The Idols and won several talent shows in her local area.

Active Music Career

Despite being underage, Lynn started performing in local clubs and jukebox joints in Texas. Discovered by singer Joe Barry, who saw one of her live performances, she was introduced to producer Huey P. Meaux, also known as Crazy Cajun, who managed SugarHill Recording Studios.

In 1962, with her parents’ permission, Lynn went to New Orleans to record at the legendary Cosimo’s Studio. Her first single, “You’ll Lose A Good Thing,” co-written with Meaux, became a big hit, reaching #1 on the US Billboard R&B chart and #8 on the Billboard Hot 100. Her debut album, also titled “You’ll Lose A Good Thing,” featured 10 original compositions out of 12 tracks.

In 1965, Lynn recorded follow-up singles “You’re Gonna Need Me” and “Oh Baby (We Got a Good Thing Goin’),” the latter later covered by The Rolling Stones. A year later, she signed with Meaux’s Tribe label and released “You Left The Water Running,” which was later covered by Otis Redding.

After leaving Tribe, she moved to Atlantic Records, where she released the album “Here Is Barbara Lynn,” which included her last hit, “(Until Then) I’ll Suffer.”

Family Life and Comeback

She married at the age of 28 and retired from the music industry for most of the 1970s and 1980s. However, she occasionally performed at local clubs in Los Angeles, where she and her family had moved. By this time, Lynn was a mother of three.

Lynn made a comeback in 1984, touring Japan for the first time and releasing the live album “You Don’t Have To Go,” which was later issued in the US by Ichiban. After her husband’s death, Lynn returned to her hometown and resumed recording.

In 1994, she released her first studio album in 20 years, “So Good,” on the Bullseye Blues label, followed by “Until Then I’ll Suffer” in 1996. Lynn received the Pioneer Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation in 1999. In 2000, she recorded “Hot Night Tonight” with her son.

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