Lester Kinsey is one of today's great blues
legends. Lester Kinsey was born on March 18, 1927 near Pleasant
Grove, Mississippi. Lester was a great vocalist, harmonica and
guitar player. Lester played many styles of blues, but his best
were Chicago Blues, and Modern Electric Blues ("Big Daddy Kinsey").
He faced many problems in his life and his music career, but his
hardest battle was his battle with prostate cancer.
Kinsey first played gospel music at the age of
six with the guitar. When he was older, he
played at parties in the Delta before moving to Gary, Indiana, at
the age of seventeen in 1944. He immediately began working
in the city's steel mill (Stilles). His father was the
pastor of Gary's Chase Street Church of God in Christ (Stantelli 241),
and his father did not like Lester playing the blues (Stilles).
Lester Kinsey married Christine McNeal in 1946. After
a stint in the service Kinsey returned to Gary to work in
the steel mill (Stantelli 241) . Settling down to raise a family,
Kinsey put his musical career on hold for several year (Stilles) .
He stayed away from his guitar until the late 60's (Stantelli 241) when
he began playing harmonica with a group called The Soul Brothers.
Lester Kinsey first signed with
Alligator.com" target="_blank">Alligator records,
but later he signed with Blind Pig Records (Stantelli 241).
He had three sons: Donald Kinsey was born on May
12,1953. Ralph Kinsey was born April 26, 1952. Kenneth
Kinsey was born on January 21, 1963. Kinsey started Donald playing the
guitar at the age of four, and Ralph played the drums at six.
Kinsey's sons Donald and Ralph
were only twelve and thirteen; but, respected for their musical ability,
they joined up with Big Daddy Kinsey and Baby Boy. At first, the
group was named Big
Daddy Kinsey and His Fabulous Sons when
Ralph and Kenneth joined the band. Then they became known as Big
Daddy Kinsey and the Kinsey Report in
1984. Lester was the main star as a powerful slide
guitarist and harp player. Pinetop
Perkins was the pianist.
Kinsey had worked clubs and lounges with
non-family musicians in the late 70's and early 80's (Stantelli
241) . Donald had joined Albert King's road band and later joined
reggae superstars Bob Marley and The Wailer (Stilles) . However, the
family band in 1984 reunited and formed The Kinsey Report (Stantelli
241) . They signed with Rooster Blues. In 1985 they signed
again with Alligator Records (Larkin 2323) for whom they
Sadly, on April 3, 2001 Lester Kinsey died
at seventy years of age. His wife had died in 1995. He
had started a charter bus company, --Kenites Coach Lines-- and took
groups to the South for casino trips (Stantelli 241). Kinsey
died from prostate cancer (Harris) at Methodist Hospital Northlake
Campus, in Gary, Indiana. He survived by a brother named Michael,
twelve grandchildren, and six great grandchildren. His funeral was held
at Allen funeral home at the Love Feast Church of God in Christ (Janega).
After his death, the band The Kinsey Report made their tribute album,
called Tribute to Hubby (Larkin