Lightnin graduated from Palo Duro High School in Amarillo, Texas. He attended Lee Junior College in Baytown, Texas, United States and West Texas State University in Canyon, Texas, United States.
Since 1995 Lightnin is a member of the Center City Arts Committee in Amarillo, Texas, United States.
Lightnin married to Martha Jean White in Austin, Texas, United States in 1970 (divorced in 1979). They have a child: Matthew L. Thomas. He married to Debby A. Carey in Amarillo, Texas, United States in August 1992.