LOS ANGELES -- Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton, the rhythm and blues singer who infuenced Elvis Presley and Janis Joplin, has died at her residence at the age of 57.

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Miss Thornton, the very first to document "Hound Dog," was found dead Wednesday night of an apparent heart strike in the south central district boarding home where she lived, said a mortuary spokesman.

An autopsy to be planned to recognize the cause of death.

She was explained as a large, robust woman, the daughter of a Montgomery, Ala., minister. She drew her nickname from her size.

In the 1949s, she toured the southern with Sammy Green"s hot Harlem Review, working as a singer, dancer and comedian.

She settled in Houston in 1948, and made her very first records for Peacock records in 1950. During the remainder of the decade she toured v Johnny Otis" valuation & Blues Caravan.

She was the first to document "Hound Dog" in 1953, the that later came to be a hit by Presley.

She wrote and recoded "Ball and Chain," which Joplin later on sang in one album. Miss Joplin credited Miss Thornton with being among the best blues singers of all time.
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