(March 27, 1937 – July 3, 1997)
Born in Haynesville, Louisiana, Copeland was influenced as a teenager by T-Bone Walker. He formed the 'Dukes of Rhythm' in Houston, Texas, and made his recording debut in 1956, signing with Duke Records the following year. In his early years he played with such acts as Sonny Boy Williamson, Big Mama Thornton and Freddie King. Although his early records met with little commercial success, he became a popular touring act over the next two decades. His early recording career embraced blues, soul and rock and roll. He recorded singles for Mercury, All Boy and Golden Eagle, among other labels. His first single was "Rock 'n' Roll Lily," and he later had regional successes such as "Please Let Me Know" and "Down On Bending Knees." For the most part, his singles featured Copeland as a vocalist more than a guitar player. Driven by disco to rethink his future, he moved to New York in 1979, and played extensively in the eastern cities. In 1981, he was signed by Rounder Records, releasing albums including Copeland Special (1981) and Bringing It All Back Home (1985). Copeland appeared at the 1983 Long Beach Blues Festival, and the 1988 San Francisco Blues Festival. He won a Grammy in 1987 for best traditional blues album for the album Showdown!, recorded with Robert Cray and Albert Collins. Copeland also played at the 1985 Montreaux Jazz Festival, as a guest with Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, with Vaughan and Copeland most famously performing the Bob Geddins song, "Tin Pan Alley (AKA Roughest Place In Town)" together on Vaughan's Blues At Sunrise album. His later years were dogged by ill health due to a congential heart defect. Copeland received a heart transplant on January 1, 1997 and, for a few months, the heart worked fine and he continued to tour. However, the heart developed a defective valve, necessitating heart surgery in the summer. Copeland died of complications during heart surgery.