Born John Thomas Brown, in Mississippi, he was a member of a minstrel group before moving to Chicago. He worked as a session musician for several artists and made some records on the Harlem label in the 1950s. "Round House Boogie" / "Kickin' the Blues Around", "Sax-ony Boogie", and "Dumb Woman Blues" were issued under various band names by Meteor Records in this period.
Brown later played and recorded with Elmore James and Howlin Wolf. He also recorded as a leader for several independent record labels, including JOB and United. He appeared on several tracks of Fleetwood Mac's 1969 album Fleetwood Mac in Chicago/Blues Jam in Chicago, Vols. 1–2, on which he sang his own composition, "Black Jack Blues".
On May 14, 2011, the fourth annual White Lake Blues Festival took place at the Howmet Playhouse Theater in Whitehall, Michigan. The concert was organized by executive producer Steve Salter, of the nonprofit organization Killer Blues, to raise money to honor Brown's unmarked grave with a headstone. The event was a success, and a headstone was placed in June 2011.
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With Howlin' Wolf
- The Real Folk Blues (Chess, 1956-64 )
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