If you look up Barbara Lynn on t’internet, she’s listed as “singer”, but infact this she’s a guitarist, songwriter and singer. A star of the 60s, we seem to have forgotten her now, but she’s a force to be reckoned with.
She was born in 1944 in Texas. Lynn started out playing the piano, as a child, but after seeing Elvis Presley on TV she decided the guitar was for her. As well as being a huge Elvis fan, she also liked the appeal of playing an instrument that wasn’t often associated with female musicians. She wanted great songs to sing and play, so she started writing her own material as a teenager.
Lynn’s song You’ll Lose A Good Thing topped the R&B charts in the US 1962, and unusually for the US, also reached the TOP 10 in the pop charts. That was her first really big break, after which she got to play with other top musicians. She wrote plenty of other hits too. She was one of the first women to play lead guitar in an R&B band, and wrote much of her own material. What’s more, she was popular not only on black music radio stations and charts, but across the board. Which was quite a feat back then in the US. She toured with Gladys Knight, Stevie Wonder Smokey robinson, Jackie Wilson, sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye and B.B. King and plenty more. In 1964 the Rolling Stones recorded her song Oh Baby (We Got a good Thing Going).
During the 1970s she largely withdrew from the music business to raise a family, making only occasional recordings and performances. But in the mid 80s she started recording and touring again. She is still touring and performing.
She’s much loved in her home town of Beaumont where she still lives. So much so that in 2010 the city named her street Barbara Lynn Street in her honour.
Lynn is not often credited as guitarist on her recordings, because she used session musicians in the studio, so she could concentrate on the vocals. But she always played lead when performing live. A left-handed player, Lynn has a unique playing style. She uses a thumb pick, and strums with her finger. She says she just made it up and it suits her. Which it most certainly does. Here she is performing her 1962 hit You’ll Lose A Good Thing.