BIOGRAPHY AND DISCOGRAPHY

 
House pianist for Freedom Records who released a handful of very solid singles under his own name during a brief recording career.

Born in 1926 in Galveston, Texas, Lyons was another in the long line of rockin’ piano players to come out of that area and like so many others showed obvious debt to Amos Milburn, the first of them to secure a recording contract.

Alongside saxophonist Conrad Johnson who led the studio band Lyons was the loose-knit group’s pianist that backed most of the artists that Freedom Records had. Because of that limited roster Lyons was able to also cut his own sides as a singer, backed by the other main figures there, including Goree Carter on guitar, and showed his versatility with slower bluesier ballads and fine storming tracks, highlighted by very strong lyrics and catchy imagery. Though nowhere near as nuanced a singer as Milburn he had a passably similar voice at times that was reasonably effective for the material though according to Carter his voice was increasingly ravaged by his penchant for booze.

Lyons was very solid on the keys however providing subtle accompaniment behind others or leading his own storming tracks. Yet in part due to Freedom Records limited distribution and know-how Lyons career never took off and by 1951 after Freedom’s demise he cut his last side for Sittin’ In With.

A heavy wine drinker he died at the age of 26 in 1953 just after his brief flirtation with success had passed. Though all but unknown in the years since Lyons played a vital role in some of the better rock records of his era before taking his place amongst those who died tragically young.
 
 

LONNIE LYONS DISCOGRAPHY (Records Reviewed To Date On Spontaneous Lunacy):
 

I DON’T WANT YOUR BABY
(Freedom 1501; March, 1949)
As sideman… behind Conney’s Combo (ft. L. C. Williams).

ROCK AWHILE
(Freedom 1506; April, 1949)
As sideman… behind Goree Carter. ★ 10 ★

FLYCHICK BOUNCE
(Freedom 1507; May, 1949)
Rousing performance by the band anchored by Lyons piano and featuring guitarist Goree Carter and sax player Conrad Johnson in strong supporting roles with Lyons on the crude but effective vocals holding together the infectious spirit of the record. (8)

FAR AWAY BLUES
(Freedom 1507; May, 1949)
Attempts at crafting an Amos Milburn-like forlorn ballad falls short in every area without ever being terrible, but a surprisingly weak arrangement and Lyons modest vocal ability can’t overcome the uninspired material. (3)

THAT’S ALRIGHT
(Freedom 1510; June, 1949)
As sideman… behind L. C. Williams (with Conney’s Combo).

I’LL SEND YOU
(Freedom 1511; June, 1949)
As sideman… behind Goree Carter.

NEAT AND SWEET
(Freedom 1512; June, 1949)
A somewhat more predictable instrumental excursion for the band, yet with the unexpected electricity of Goree Carter’s mid-song guitar solo, makes this a worthwhile transition piece for long nights on the bandstand and equally worthy as release filler for Freedom Records. (6)

LET’S HAVE SOME FUN
(Freedom 1513; July, 1949)
As sideman… behind Jesse Thomas.

HOY HOY
(Freedom 1516; July, 1949)
As sideman… behind Goree Carter.

SHOUT BABY SHOUT
(Freedom 1517; August, 1949)
As sideman… behind L. C. Williams

SHE’S JUST OLD FASHIONED
(Freedom 1518; August, 1949)
As sideman… behind Goree Carter.

IS IT TRUE
(Freedom 1518; August, 1949)
As sideman… behind Goree Carter.

DOWN IN THE GROOVY
(Freedom 1519; August, 1949)
An atmospheric party record that showcases the entire band’s prowess on their instruments with multiple solos as Lyons displays his piano skills and underrated vocals and makes the case for his own measure of stardom. (8)

HELPLESS
(Freedom 1519; August, 1949)
A lack of a coherent arrangement completely sinks this attempt at a blues-rock ballad which has Lyons seemingly channeling Johnny Ace years before that singer was even on the scene, but not even that’s enough to save the atonal horns and clashing guitar from spoiling this. (2)