Tribute to Lucky Peterson

Lucky Peterson at the Roman Theater in Vienne (France) in July 2018. Jules Azelie / Pierre Corvaisier

By: Joe Farmer Follow

Behind the fiery performance, Lucky Peterson hid a stubborn dissatisfaction. If he showed the best of himself in public, he was sometimes annoyed behind the scenes of the little recognition that his talent should have offered him. It is true that Judge Kenneth Peterson started early on the boards. At 5 years old (yes, 5 years old), he was already invited to American television. He also recorded his first album "Our future: 5 year old Lucky Peterson" at the same time. This little darling had very early won over his family circle by revealing an innate gift for the Hammond B3 organ.


Born in Buffalo (New York), on December 13, 1964, it was while watching the blues giants on the stage of the Governor's Inn, the club run by his dad, that the young Lucky Peterson discovered a passion for music. Legendary double bassist, producer and conductor Willie Dixon will fall in love with this rather talented kid and encourage him to persevere. Over the years, Lucky Peterson will professionalize himself in contact with some great figures from "The Epic of Black Music" including Etta James, Bobby "Blue" Bland, Little Milton, Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, Muddy Waters, Koko Taylor. In addition to his excessive taste for keyboards, Lucky Peterson will also become an excellent guitarist allowing him to give different sound colors to his interpretations.

Lucky Peterson in concert at the 11th Santa Cruz Blues Festival in 2003. Tim Mosenfelder / Corbis via Getty Images

It will be curious to wait until the turn of the 90s for a recognized label to finally realize the value of the character. After two albums for Alligator Records, Lucky Peterson signed an exclusivity contract with a prestigious record company, Verve Records, which suddenly propelled him into the spotlight, especially in France, where his concerts charmed more and more spectators. . And yet, Lucky Peterson is getting impatient… He is 30 years old and, after already a quarter of a century of music, would so much like to be unanimous and live on his passion. He looks at his elders and imagines his future. He sees himself, like a BB King, becoming a wise maestro to whom we would ask for advice but the test of time and of constancy is a requirement from which he cannot escape to achieve his goals.

Lucky Peterson on stage during the Portland Jazz Festival, Oregon, USA, in 2015. Anthony Pidgeon / Redferns via Getty Images

So, with diligence, he will adapt his hopes to circumstances, setbacks, successes, disappointments and celebrations. Sometimes he got enthusiastic when he crossed paths with James Brown in 1993 by performing the first part of his concert at Paris-Bercy or when he joined Mavis Staples in 1996 for an album of gospel and spirituals and , at other times, got tired of too many requests by showing real weariness. Lucky Peterson was a whole character who reacted spontaneously according to his mood and his energy of the moment. In recent years, he has told more. In front of his fans, through his albums, he narrated the destiny of a little prodigy immersed very (too) quickly in the history of the blues. He delivered his version of a unique human and artistic adventure. 

On May 17, 2020, Lucky Peterson passed away at the age of 55. Yes, he had just celebrated his first fiftieth birthday on stage, but his disappearance still took place far too early. He still had so much to say, to prove, to reveal. As he said on his latest album, "Just warming up!", He was only getting warm… 

Lucky Peterson's website

Lucky Peterson at the microphone of Joe Farmer in November 2017. RFI / Joe Farmer

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