Born in Centerville, Texas, on March 15, 1912, according to most bios (or 1911 according to other data), Hopkins began his recording career in the company of pianist “Thunder” Smith in 1946 for Aladdin Records. Some of his subsequent records for Modern, Gold Star, Aladdin, and Sittin' In With, hit the Billboard R&B charts from 1949 to 1952.
He recorded electric country blues and boogies for the black R&B market as well as acoustic guitar albums for the folk market; throughout a lengthy and prolific recording career he was a consistent, engaging, and immediately identifiable artist who made dozens of outstanding records. Whether traditional or topical, acoustic or electric, whether recording solo or with a small combo, Hopkins was a natural: a master musician, singer and blues poet/storyteller. His songs might hark back to Blind Lemon Jefferson or they might deal with the latest breaking news.
According to producers who recorded him in the 1960s and afterwards, Hopkins had his own rules for recording sessions: he insisted on being paid in cash for each song, one song at a time, and each song would only be performed once. As famous and successful as he was in music, Hopkins, who was usually seen wearing dark shades, considered gambling to be his true profession, and no doubt he was as slick an operator with the cards as he was with his guitar. Hopkins died in Houston on Jan. 30, 1982.