(October 1, 1932 – November 24, 1993)
Born in Leona, Texas, Collins was a distant relative of Lightnin' Hopkins and grew up learning about music and playing guitar. His family moved to Houston, Texas when he was seven. Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, he absorbed the blues sounds and styles from Texas, Mississippi and Chicago. He formed his first band in 1952 and two years later was the headliner at several blues clubs in Houston. Collins began recording in 1958 and released singles, including many instrumentals such as the million selling "Frosty" (1962), on Texas-based labels such as Kangaroo and Hall-Way. A number of these singles were collected on the album The Cool Sounds Of Albert Collins on the TCF Hall label. In the spring of 1965 he moved to Kansas City, Missouri and made a name for himself there. Many of Kansas City's recording studios had closed by the mid-1960s. Unable to record, Collins moved to California in 1967. He played many of the West Coast venues popular with the counter-culture. In early 1969 after playing a concert with Canned Heat, members of this band introduced him to Liberty Records. In 1968, Collins signed with Liberty and released his firm album, Love Can Be Found Anywhere, on Imperial Records, a sister label to Liberty. Collins remained in California for another five years, and was popular on double-billed shows at The Fillmore and the Winterland. He was signed to Alligator Records in 1977 and recorded and released Ice Pickin'. He would record seven more albums with the label, before being signed to Point Blank Records in 1990. In 1983, he won the W. C. Handy Award for his album Don't Lose Your Cool, which won the award for Best Blues Album of the Year. In 1987, he shared a Grammy for the album Showdown! (released in 1986) which he recorded with Robert Cray and Johnny Copeland. The following year his solo release Cold Snap was also nominated for a Grammy. After falling ill at a show in Switzerland in late July 1993, he was diagnosed in mid-August with lung cancer which had metastasized to his liver. Parts of his last album, Live '92/'93, were recorded at shows that September; he died shortly afterwards, in November at the age of 61. Collins will be remembered for the many artists he influenced and collaborated with, including Ronnie Wood, Jimmy Page, Robert Cray, Keith Richards, Johnny Nitro, Jeff Beck, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Gary Moore, B.B. King, Larry Carlton and Eric Clapton.