Born in Ponchatoula, Louisiana, Irma Thomas had been married twice and had four children by the age of nineteen.
Bandleader, Tommy Ridgley discovered her when she was working as a waitress in a bar and helped her achieve her first record contract in 1959.
Nicknamed ‘The Soul Queen Of New Orleans’, she later moved to the Minit label, working with Allen Toussaint and when the company was acquired by the mighty Imperial label in 1963, a string of successful records in America followed.
Thomas poured it all out – helplessness, anger, yearning on her 1964 album, Wish Someone Would Care, mixing blues and soul nuggets (including a steamy, sensual version of Little Willie John‘s I Need Your Love So Bad) with poppier fare from emerging West Coast songwriters like Randy Newman (While The City Sleeps) and Jackie DeShannon (Break-a-Way, a briskly-paced teen psychodrama).
The standout track, though, was her cover of Time Is On My Side.
The song was quickly covered by The Rolling Stones, providing them with their first Top Ten hit, but the definitive version is Thomas’.
In 1965, she released the soulful single, Take A Look.