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Blues fans mourn death of singer Vala Cupp, 51

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PETITE POWERHOUSE `WAS HAPPIEST' PERFORMING WITH JOHN LEE HOOKER



Mercury News

When Laura Osborn, a longtime friend, heard the news that blues singer Vala Cupp had died, she said, ``Well, at least now she's with John Lee. That's when Vala was the happiest, when she was with John Lee.''

Cupp, a brilliant but not widely known blues singer who toured for nearly 15 years with blues legend John Lee Hooker, and for a time lived in a room in his Redwood City home, died Oct. 31 in her Austin home. Her death was ruled a suicide. She was 51.

During the time Cupp toured with Hooker, she would open his sets by singing a song or two with his Coast-to-Coast Blues Band, which was led by guitarist Michael Osborn (Laura's husband). Then, during Hooker's own performance, he would bring the petite Cupp out on stage again to perform a duet of ``Crawlin' Kingsnake,'' always a hit with the crowd.

When Hooker retired from touring, and the blues scene in the Bay Area was fading, Cupp, who had never known crossover success as a musician though she was admired among blues fans, moved to Austin in hopes of energizing her career. She found the Austin music scene a tough nut to crack, although she continued to play gigs with various bands. Financial success eluded her, and she worked a series of day jobs.

Cupp had suffered for years from bipolar disorder. Although surrounded by a circle of close friends in Austin and in frequent touch by e-mail and phone with many friends around the nation, she had become increasingly withdrawn. ... [MORE]




Artists  Blues  

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