Hersal Thomas

Hersal Thomas (September 9, 1906 – June 2, 1926) was an American blues pianist and composer. He recorded a number of sides for Okeh Records in 1925 and 1926.

Thomas was born in Houston, Texas, United States, and displayed an early talent for blues playing and composition. He was one of several musicians in his family. His brother George Washington Thomas was also a skilled piano player and composer, while his sister Sippie Wallace and niece Hociel Thomas were singers of note.

Though he died at a young age, Thomas was nonetheless an influence on the Chicago boogie woogie school of pianists. Albert Ammons and Meade Lux Lewis both cited him as an influence. His most famous track was "Suitcase Blues" (8958-A Okeh 8227), which was issued on CD in 1992 as part of the box set, Roots 'N Blues: The Retrospective. The Thomas brothers also co-wrote "The Fives", which Ammons and Lewis cited as an essential boogie-woogie number.

Thomas recorded under his own name, and as an accompanist to Hociel Thomas, Sippie Wallace, Lilian Miller and possibly, Sodarisa Miller. In 1926, he recorded a session with Hociel Thomas and Louis Armstrong. The songs recorded on that occasion were "Deep Water Blues" (9519-A Okeh 8297), "Lonesome Hours" (9522-A Okeh 8297), "Listen To Ma" (9521-A Okeh 8346), and "G'wan, I Told You" (9520-A Okeh 8346). The first three are listed as having been composed by "Thomas", though it is not clear if this refers to Hersal or his brother. He also worked in session with King Oliver.

Sippie Wallace recorded seven of his compositions: "A Jealous Woman Like Me", "A Man For Every Day Of The Week", "Dead Drunk Blues", "Have You Ever Been Down?", "I Feel Good", "Shorty George Blues" and "Trouble Everywhere I Roam".

Thomas died of food poisoning while working at Penny's Pleasure Inn in Detroit, Michigan. The circumstances of his death have never been clarified.

Birth and Death Data: Born September 9th, 1906 (Houston), Died June 2nd, 1926 (Detroit)

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1924 - 1926

Roles Represented in DAHR: piano, songwriter, composer, lyricist

Recordings (Results 1-25 of 34 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
OKeh 8958 10-in. Feb. 1925 Suitcase blues Hersal Thomas Piano solo instrumentalist, piano, composer  
OKeh 8964 10-in. Feb. 1925 Morning dove blues Joe Oliver ; Hersal Thomas ; Sippie Wallace Female vocal solo, with cornet and piano instrumentalist, piano  
OKeh 8965 10-in. Feb. 1925 Devil dance blues Joe Oliver ; Hersal Thomas ; Sippie Wallace Female vocal solo, with cornet and piano instrumentalist, piano  
OKeh 8966 10-in. Feb. 1925 Every dog has his day Joe Oliver ; Hersal Thomas ; Sippie Wallace Female vocal solo, with cornet and piano instrumentalist, piano  
OKeh 9166 10-in. May 1925 Hersal blues Hersal Thomas Piano solo instrumentalist, piano, composer  
OKeh 9167 10-in. May 1925 Worried down with the blues Hersal Thomas ; Hociel Thomas Female vocal solo, with piano instrumentalist, piano  
OKeh 9168 10-in. May 1925 Fish tail dance Hersal Thomas ; Hociel Thomas Female vocal solo, with piano instrumentalist, piano  
OKeh 9169 10-in. May 1925 Wash woman blues Thomas' Muscle Shoal Devils Jazz/dance band instrumentalist, piano  
OKeh 9170 10-in. May 1925 Morning dove blues Thomas' Muscle Shoal Devils Jazz/dance band instrumentalist, piano  
OKeh 9471 10-in. 11/11/1925 Gambler's dream Hociel Thomas Female vocal solo, with jazz/dance ensemble composer, lyricist, instrumentalist, piano  
OKeh 9472 10-in. 11/11/1925 Sunshine baby Hociel Thomas Female vocal solo, with jazz/dance ensemble instrumentalist, piano  
OKeh 9473 10-in. 11/11/1925 Adam and Eve had the blues Louis Armstrong's Jazz Four ; Hociel Thomas Female vocal solo, with jazz/dance band instrumentalist, piano  
OKeh 9474 10-in. 11/11/1925 Put it where I can get it Louis Armstrong's Jazz Four ; Hociel Thomas Female vocal solo, with jazz/dance ensemble instrumentalist, piano  
OKeh 9475 10-in. 11/11/1925 Wash woman blues Hociel Thomas Female vocal solo, with jazz/dance ensemble instrumentalist, piano  
OKeh 9476 10-in. 11/11/1925 I've stopped my man Hociel Thomas Female vocal solo, with jazz/dance ensemble instrumentalist, piano  
OKeh 9519 10-in. 2/24/1926 Deep water blues Louis Armstrong ; Hersal Thomas ; Hociel Thomas Female vocal solo, with trumpet and piano instrumentalist, piano  
OKeh 9520 10-in. 2/24/1926 G'wan I told you (She just won't have) Louis Armstrong ; Hersal Thomas ; Hociel Thomas Female vocal solo, with trumpet and piano instrumentalist, piano  
OKeh 9521 10-in. 2/24/1926 Listen to Ma Louis Armstrong ; Hersal Thomas ; Hociel Thomas Female vocal solo, with trumpet and piano instrumentalist, piano  
OKeh 9522 10-in. 2/24/1926 Lonesome hours Louis Armstrong ; Hersal Thomas ; Hociel Thomas Female vocal solo, with trumpet and piano instrumentalist, piano  
OKeh 9546 10-in. 3/1/1926 A jealous woman like me Louis Armstrong ; Hersal Thomas ; Sippie Wallace Female vocal solo, with trumpet and piano instrumentalist, piano, songwriter  
OKeh 9547 10-in. 3/1/1926 Special delivery blues Louis Armstrong ; Hersal Thomas ; Sippie Wallace Female vocal solo, with trumpet and piano instrumentalist, piano, songwriter  
OKeh 9548 10-in. 3/1/1926 Jack of diamonds blues Louis Armstrong ; Hersal Thomas ; Sippie Wallace Female vocal solo, with trumpet and piano instrumentalist, piano, songwriter  
OKeh 9559 10-in. 3/3/1926 The mail train blues Louis Armstrong ; Hersal Thomas ; Sippie Wallace Female vocal solo, with cornet and piano instrumentalist, piano  
OKeh 9560 10-in. 3/3/1926 I feel good Louis Armstrong ; Hersal Thomas ; Sippie Wallace Female vocal solo, with cornet and piano instrumentalist, piano  
OKeh 9561 10-in. 3/3/1926 A man for every day in the week Louis Armstrong ; Hersal Thomas ; Sippie Wallace Female vocal solo, with trumpet and piano instrumentalist, piano  
(Results 1-25 of 34 records)

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Thomas, Hersal," accessed July 28, 2021, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/110329.

Thomas, Hersal. (2021). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved July 28, 2021, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/110329.

"Thomas, Hersal." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2021. Web. 28 July 2021.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

URI: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/110329

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