Lonesome Sundown


musical style: 

photograph of Lonesome Sundown

Cornelius Green (December 12, 1928 – April 23, 1995), known professionally as Lonesome Sundown, was an American blues musician, best known for his recordings for Excello Records in the 1950s and early 1960s.


Green was born on the Dugas Plantation near Donaldsonville, Louisiana. At the age of 18, he moved to New Orleans and worked in various jobs including as a porter at the New Southport Club, a casino in Jefferson Parish. He returned to Donaldsonville by 1948 and, inspired by Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker, began taking guitar lessons from a cousin. In 1953, after a brief period as a truck driver in Jeanerette, Louisiana, he moved again to work at the Gulf Oil Refinery in Port Arthur, Texas. By this time he had begun to take his music more seriously, jamming at local clubs, and in 1955 was invited by Clifton Chenier to sit in with his new band, the Zydeco Ramblers, at the Blue Moon Club in Lake Charles. Chenier offered him the post of second guitarist in the band, alongside first guitarist Phillip Walker. Green toured with them as far as Chicago and Los Angeles, where Chenier's recording of "The Cat's Dreaming" was inspired by Green falling asleep during a session, and where Green auditioned for producer Bumps Blackwell but failed to get a contract.

Green married later in 1955, left the Zydeco Ramblers, and moved to Opelousas, Louisiana where he began playing with Lloyd Reynauld and writing his own material. He recorded a demo tape, and took it to producer J. D. "Jay" Miller in Crowley. Miller was impressed, gave the singer/ guitarist the stage name "Lonesome Sundown", and recorded his debut single, "Leave My Money Alone" b/w "Lost Without Love", which he leased to Excello Records in 1956. The follow-up, "Lonesome Whistler" b/w "My Home Is A Prison", was more successful, and Sundown became one of Miller's south Louisiana stable of musicians. Although he never had a chart hit, he recorded for Miller for eight years, and his records sold in respectable quantities, his output including "Don’t Say A Word" (featuring Lazy Lester on harmonica), "I'm a Mojo Man," "You Know I Love You," "I Stood By (And Watched Another Man Steal My Gal)," "My Home Ain't Here," and the much covered, "Gonna Stick To You Baby."[1][2][3][4] Unusually for Louisiana musicians, Sundown's style of the blues was more in keeping with the sound of Muddy Waters than that of Jimmy Reed,[2] and his sombre and melancholic recordings and instantly recognizable style were described by Miller as "the sound of the swamp".

Sundown continued to work with Miller into the early 1960s, and in 1964 recorded "Hoo Doo Woman Blues" b/w "I’ve Got A Broken Heart", recordings which have been described as among "the last ethnic down-home blues 45s aimed exclusively at the Negro market". However, by 1965 Sundown had become disillusioned with his lack of success, experienced a traumatic divorce, retired from the music industry to work as a laborer, and joined the Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith Fellowship Throughout the World Church, where he eventually became a minister. He was persuaded back to the recording studios in 1977, and recorded another blues album, Been Gone Too Long, co-produced by Bruce Bromberg and Dennis Walker, originally for Joliet Records. Despite its quality, disappointing sales ensued, even after being reissued on Alligator.[2] His final single release was 1977's "I Betcha".

Sundown did several concerts, including an appearance at the 1979 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, and tours of Sweden and Japan with Phillip Walker, but then walked away from the music business for good. In 1994 he suffered a stroke, and he was no longer able to speak. Sundown died in Gonzales, Louisiana, in April 1995, aged 66. He was posthumously inducted into the Louisiana Blues Hall of Fame in 2000.

Selected discography

Lonesome Lonely Blues (1970) - Excello
Been Gone Too Long (1977) - HighTone
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