With the possible exception of Sugar Chile Robinson, few jazz or blues artists have accomplished so much so early in life as Hersal Thomas, the child prodigy pianist and composer who passed away suddenly under somewhat suspicious circumstances at the age of 16. While Robinson jumped onto an existing stylistic bandwagon and was exploited as a comedic boy wonder for a short while before quitting the music business at the age of 12, young Hersal Thomas was among the earliest architects of the boogie-woogie style and funneled his brilliant precocity into a very brief career, managing during a tragically short life to leave such a powerful impression that pianists as highly regarded as Jimmy Yancey, Albert Ammons, and Meade "Lux" Lewis claimed him as a primal influence. When in January 1939 Ammons participated in the first-ever Blue Note recording session, he made a point of knocking out a nearly four-minute version of Hersal's "Suitcase Blues." Hersal and his brother George W. Thomas, Jr. are credited with co-composing "The Rocks" as well as "The Fives," a bedrock staple of classic boogie-woogie published in 1922 and marketed in connection with vocalist Lizzie Miles. Two direct exponents of the style developed by the brothers Thomas were Clarence Pinetop Smith and Little Brother Montgomery.