Born in Houston’s fourth ward, Bubbha Thomas attended Booker T. Washington Senior High School where he served as a captain of the school band’s drum section – under the direction of one Conrad O. Johnson, who later gained fame as leader of the aforementioned Kashmere High School Stage Band. He earned a scholarship to Wiley College where he became captain of the school’s band and founded his own jazz outfit, The Lightmen. Before graduating with a BA in music, Bubbha led his band to the Newport Jazz Festival and released a spiritual debut on Houston based Judnell Records (home of The Chocolate Glass, for anyone keeping score) entitled “Free As You Wanna Be.”
1971 saw the release of his second album, “Fancy Pants,” an album that first demonstrated that the young Bubbha understood the funk movement (with the song “Ashie”). After releasing a few more 45s on Judnell (including the incredible “Wench”), he formed his own imprint, Lightin’ Records, and pursued his recording dreams from there. In 1972, he released what many consider his masterpiece – “Energy Control Center – ” the album that contained the backbeat-grounded “Phantom” which Egon compiled on The “Funky 16 Corners” in 2001. In 1975, now recording under the name Bubbha Thomas and The Lightmen, he released his altogether funkiest album, “Country Fried Chicken.” Thomas continued releasing albums into the 1980s, and he records on the Lightin’ label to this day.