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    Default Blues Artists of the past - Biographies

    Just thought I'd start a thread about some of the founding artists for our Blues. I thought I'd start with Blind Lemon Jefferson aka Reverend L.J. Bates. In my opinion he was one of the artists who heavily influenced country music...I've attached a youtube link to one of his performances.

    JEFFERSON, BLIND LEMON (ca. 1893–1929). Blind Lemon Jefferson, a seminal blues guitarist and songster, was born on a farm in Couchman, near Wortham, Freestone County, Texas, in the mid-1890s. Sources differ as to the exact birthdate. Census records indicate that he was born on September 24, 1893, while apparently Jefferson himself wrote the date of October 26, 1894, on his World War I draft registration. He was the son of Alec and Clarissy Banks Jefferson. His parents were sharecroppers. There are numerous contradictory accounts of where Lemon lived, performed, and died, complicated further by the lack of photographic documentation; to date, only two photographs of him have been identified, and even these are misleading. The cause of his blindness isn't known, nor whether he had some sight.

    Little is known about Jefferson's early life. He must have heard songsters and bluesmen, like Henry "Ragtime Texas" Thomas and "Texas" Alexander. Both Thomas and Alexander traveled around East Texas and performed a variety of blues and dance tunes. Clearly, Jefferson was an heir to the blues songster tradition, though the specifics of his musical training are vague. Legends of his prowess as a bluesman abound among the musicians who heard him, and sightings of Jefferson in different places around the country are plentiful.

    By his teens, he began spending time in Dallas. About 1912 he started performing in the Deep Ellum and Central Track areas of Dallas, where he met Huddie Ledbetter, better known as Leadbelly, one of the most legendary musical figures to travel and live in Texas. In interviews he gave in the 1940s, Leadbelly gave various dates for his initial meeting with Jefferson, sometimes placing it as early as 1904. But he mentioned 1912 most consistently, and that seems plausible. Jefferson would then have been eighteen or nineteen years old. The two became musical partners in Dallas and the outlying areas of East Texas. Leadbelly learned much about the blues from Blind Lemon, and he had plenty to contribute as a musician and a showman.

    Though Jefferson was known to perform almost daily at the corner of Elm Street and Central Avenue in Dallas, there is no evidence that he ever lived in the city. The 1920 census shows him living in Freestone County with an older half-brother, Nit C. Banks, and his family. Jefferson's occupation is listed as "musician" and his employer as "general public." Some time after 1920, Jefferson met Roberta Ransom, who was ten years his senior. They married in 1927, the year that Ransom's son by a previous marriage, Theaul Howard, died. Howard's son, also named Theaul, remained in the area and retired in nearby Ferris, Texas.

    In 1925 Jefferson was discovered by a Paramount recording scout and taken to Chicago to make records. Though he was not the first folk (or "country") blues singer–guitarist, or the first to make commercial recordings, Jefferson was the first to attain a national audience. His extremely successful recording career began in 1926 and continued until 1929. He recorded 110 sides (including all alternate takes), of which seven were not issued and six are not yet available in any format. In addition to blues, he recorded two spiritual songs, "I Want to be Like Jesus in My Heart" and "All I Want is That Pure Religion," released under the pseudonym Deacon L. J. Bates. Overall, Jefferson's recordings display an extraordinary virtuosity. His compositions are rooted in tradition, but are innovative in his guitar solos, his two-octave vocal range, and the complexity of his lyrics, which are at once ironic, humorous, sad, and poignant.

    Jefferson's approach to creating his blues varied. Some of his songs use essentially the same melodic and guitar parts. Others contain virtually no repetition. Some are highly rhythmic and related to different dances, the names of which he called out at times between or in the middle of stanzas. He made extensive use of single-note runs, often apparently picked with his thumb, and he played in a variety of keys and tunings.

    Jefferson is widely recognized as a profound influence upon the development of the Texas blues tradition and the growth of American popular music. His significance has been acknowledged by blues, jazz, and rock musicians, from Sam "Lightnin'" Hopkins, Mance Lipscomb, and T-Bone Walker to Bessie Smith, Bix Beiderbecke, Louis Armstrong, Carl Perkins, Jefferson Airplane, and the Beatles. In the 1970s, Jefferson was parodied as "Blind Mellow Jelly" by Redd Foxx in his popular "Sanford and Son" television series, and by the 1990s there was a popular alternative rock band called Blind Melon. A caricature of Blind Lemon appears on the inside of a Swedish blues magazine, called Jefferson. He appears in the same characteristic pose as his publicity photo, but instead of wearing a suit and tie, he is depicted in a Hawaiian-style shirt. In each issue, the editors put new words in the singer's mouth: "Can I change my shirt now? Is the world ready for me yet?" Alan Govenar and Akin Babatunde have composed a musical, Blind Lemon: Prince of Country Blues, staged at the Majestic Theatre, Dallas (1999), and the Addison WaterTower Theatre (2001), and have also developed a touring musical revue, entitled Blind Lemon Blues.

    Jefferson died in Chicago on December 22, 1929, and was buried in the Wortham Negro Cemetery. His grave was unmarked until 1967, when a Texas state historical marker was dedicated to him. He was inducted in the Blues Foundation's Hall of Fame in 1980. In 1997 the town of Wortham began a blues festival named for the singer, and a new granite headstone was placed at his gravesite. The inscription included lyrics from one of the bluesman's songs: "Lord, it's one kind favor I'll ask of you. See that my grave is kept clean." In 2007 the name of the cemetery was changed to Blind Lemon Memorial Cemetery. Among Jefferson's most well-known songs are "Matchbox Blues," "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean," "That Black Snake Moan," "Mosquito Blues," "One Dime Blues," "Tin Cup Blues," "Hangman's Blues," "'Lectric Chair Blues," and "Black Horse Blues." All of Blind Lemon Jefferson's recordings have been reissued by Document Records.

    BIBLIOGRAPHY:
    David Evans, ed., Journal of Black Music Research, 20.1 (Spring 2000). Alan Govenar, Meeting the Blues (New York: Da Capo, 1995). Alan Govenar and Jay Brakefield, Deep Ellum and Central Track: Where the Black and White Worlds of Dallas Converged (Denton: University of North Texas Press, 1998). Robert Uzzel, Blind Lemon Jefferson: His Life, His Death, and His Legacy (Austin: Eakin Press, 2002).






    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5S8Rjwwo2g4

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    I'm saving this to read in the morning. Thanks, Jimmm ;^}

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    Moving on with the biographies of old blues artists, Blind (Arthur) Blake has to be one of my personal favorites. Blind Blake created finger style guitar and many of his original recordings for Paramount have been crossover hits for the mid-50's country music artists. He's In The Jailhouse Now has been covered by everyone from Jimmie Rogers to Webb Pierce and Johnny Cash in country music.

    Blind Blake
    Born: 1890 | Died: 1937

    Blind Blake - Blues Singer, guitarist (1890 - 1933)

    Early finger pickin’ guitarist Blind Blake remains a mystery man of the blues. We know he was born Arthur Phelps, in Jacksonville, FL circa 1890-something and died sometime in 1933. He disappeared from the blues scene in Chicago, 1932, where he was considered the undisputed ‘King of the String,’ and had recorded over eighty solo sides for Paramount.
    Being Blind, Blake earned his living in the early years, most likely playing for change on street corners, or for dances and fish fries. He headed for Chicago in the early 1920s, signing a contract with Paramount in 1926. He was regionally well known until then, but broke out into the blues mainstream once he started recording, with is debut release, “West Coast Blues”. Through the late 20s, he played with the likes of Papa Charlie Jackson, Gus Cannon, and a wide range of other talents while performing as first-call guitar on Paramount’s studio A-team. His repertoire ranged from blues to rags, and he developed an intense fingerstyle guitar technique (Piedmont Style) that remains virtually unrivalled today.

    From 1930-31 Blake toured with the Vaudeville show, “Happy-Go-Lucky,” then back to recording in 1932. After this, Blind Blake disappears. Rumors abound about the nature of his disappearance, including ones of murder and accidental death. Logic, however, suggests that the Depression killed the race recording industry, sending Blake home to the South where he died shortly thereafter.

    The Mysterious Death of Blind Blake

    Excerpted from the University of North Carolina-Asheville:

    At the end of his life, several blues artists speculated his death and some outrageous rumors surfaced due to this. Bob Groom reported Blake wandered the South in the years between the wars spending time recording in Chicago. He was thought to be dead, but it seems that he actually returned to Atlanta when the Depression ended his career and was killed in a streetcar accident in 1941. Bill Williams reported Blake as a heavy drinker and recalled their Monday night “rehearsals” at Blake's apartment were helped along by moonshine. Williams assumed Blake died of alcohol related causes. Josh White saw him no more after 1930 and believed he was murdered in the streets of Chicago. Big Bill Broonzy thought he died about 1932 in Joliet within sight of the prison that featured his blues. Pianist Blind John Davis believed he died in St. Louis in the 1930s, as he had been told by Tampa Red of this. Gary Davis heard that he had been run over by a streetcar in New York City in 1934, but the city records do not show he died in New York City or Atlanta at that time.

    Blake was an extremely mysterious person. Little is really known about his life except for his music. Not even his birthplace or place of death is certain. The only thing certain is his recording career.

    Here's his recording of "In the Jailhouse Now"...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8aR4wwJs-0
    Last edited by tenn_jim; 09-09-2011 at 09:18 AM.

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    Charley Patton (May 1, 1891 - April 28, 1934) is best known as
    an American Delta blues musician. He is considered by many to be the "Father of
    Delta Blues" and therefore one of the oldest known figures of American popular
    music. He is credited with creating an enduring body of American music and
    personally inspiring just about every Delta blues man (Robert Palmer, 1995).
    Palmer considers him among the most important musicians that America produced in
    the twentieth century. Many sources, including some musical releases and even
    his gravestone, misspell his name “Charley” even though the musician himself
    spelled his name “Charlie.”

    Charlie Patton was one of the first
    mainstream stars of the Delta blues genre. Patton, who was born in Hinds County,
    Mississippi near Edwards, lived most of his life in Sunflower County, in the
    Mississippi Delta. He was born in 1891, but there is still some debate about
    this. In 1900, however, his family moved 100 miles north to the legendary 10,000
    Acre Dockery Plantation sawmill and cotton farm near Ruleville, Mississippi. It
    was here that both John Lee Hooker and Howlin' Wolf fell under the Patton spell.
    It was also here that Robert Johnson played his first guitar.

    At Dockery,
    Charlie fell under the spell of Henry Sloan who had an unusual new style of
    playing music which we would recognize today as very early blues. Charlie
    followed Henry Sloan around and by the time he was about 19 in 1910 he was an
    accomplished performer and composer, having already composed his theme song
    "Pony Blues".

    He was extremely popular across the U.S. South, and (in
    contrast to the itinerant wandering of most blues musicians of his time) was
    invited to perform at plantations and taverns. Long before Jimi Hendrix he was
    the entertainer's entertainer with dazzling showmanship, often playing guitar on
    his knees and behind his head, as well as behind his back. Although Patton was a
    small man at about 5 foot 5 and 135 pounds, the sound of his whiskey- and
    cigarette-scarred voice was rumored to have carried for over 500 yards without
    amplification. This gritty voice was a major influence in the singing style of
    one of his students, Howlin' Wolf.
    Patton settled in Holly Ridge, Mississippi
    with his common-law wife and recording partner Bertha Lee in 1933. He died on
    the Heathman-Dedham plantation near Indianola from heart disease on April 28,
    1934 and is buried in Holly Ridge (both towns are located in Sunflower
    County).

    There apparently exists only one photograph of Charlie Patton,
    although its authenticity is disputed. Rights to it are owned by a collector
    named John Tefteller.

    It is of minor debate which race Charlie Patton
    was. Though he was most likely African-American like most of his contemporaries
    in the blues field, because of his light complexion there have been rumors that
    he was Mexican, full-blood Cherokee (Howlin' Wolf himself endorsed this theory)
    and many others

    Have a listen to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EyIqu...eature=related

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    GREAT STUFF jimmmm'

    DAMN I was just looking for stuff on Charlie Patton...brilliant minds think alike !!! lol

    I'll look up some goodies on EDDIE JAMES "SON" HOUSE JR.

    GREAT STUFF ON CHARLIE PATTON jimmmm

    james
    Last edited by voodoo; 09-11-2011 at 01:58 PM.

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    Here's a biography of Henry Thomas, the oldest bluesman of all.

    Henry Thomas
    (1874 – 1950s?) was an American pre-World War II country blues singer, songster and musician. He was often billed as "Ragtime Texas".
    Thomas was born in Big Sandy, Texas, United States. He remains a relative stranger who made some great recordings, then returned to obscurity. Evidence suggests he was an itinerant street musician, a musical hobo who rode the rails across Texas and possibly to the World Fairs in St. Louis and Chicago just before and after the turn of the century. Most agree he was the oldest African-American folk artist to produce a significant body of recordings. His projected 1874 birthdate would predate Charley Patton by a good 17 years. Like Patton and a handful of other musicians generally termed songsters (including John Hurt, Jim Jackson, Mance Lipscomb, Furry Lewis, and Leadbelly), Thomas's repertoire bridged the 19th and 20th centuries, providing a compelling glimpse into a wide range of African-American musical genres. The 23 songs he cut for Vocalion between 1927 and 1929 include a spiritual, ballads, reels, dance songs, and eight selections titled blues. Obviously dance music, his songs were geared to older dance styles shared by black and white audiences.

    Thomas's sound, like his repertoire, is unique. He capoed his guitar high up the neck and strummed it in the manner of a banjo, favoring dance rhythm over complex fingerwork. On many of his pieces, he simultaneously played the quills or panpipes, a common but seldom-recorded African-American folk instrument indigenous to Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. Combining the quills, a limited-range melody instrument, with his banjo-like strummed guitar produced one of the most memorable sounds in American folk music. For example, his lead-in on "Bull Doze Blues" still worked as a hook when recycled 40 years later by blues/rockers Canned Heat in their version of "Going Up the Country." "Ragtime Texas," as Thomas was known, provides a welcome inroad to 19th-century dance music, but his music is neither obscure nor merely educational: it has a timeless quality -- and while it may be an acquired taste, once you catch on to it, you're hooked.
    His legacy has been sustained by his songs which were later covered by musicians after the folk music revival. "Fishin' Blues" was covered by Taj Mahal and The Lovin' Spoonful. "Bull Doze Blues" was recorded by Canned Heat, retitled "Goin' Up The Country". Here Thomas's melody on quills was reproduced note for note by flautist Jim Horn. "Don't Ease Me In" was covered by the Grateful Dead on their album Go to Heaven; and "Honey Won't You Allow Me One More Chance" was re-interpreted by Bob Dylan (as "Honey Just Allow Me One More Chance") on The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan The songs are different, and little remains of Thomas's song but the title line, but Dylan gives Thomas a co-writer credit, though he was long dead by then. Thomas's vintage recording of "Don't Ease Me In" is included on the compilation album The Music Never Stopped: Roots of the Grateful Dead. The Lovin' Spoonful recorded an original song entitled "Henry Thomas" on their 1966 album Hums of the Lovin' Spoonful. In 1993 the band Deacon Blue released a song entitled "Last Night I Dreamed Of Henry Thomas" on their Whatever You Say, Say Nothing album. In addition, his arrangement for "Cottonfield Blues" was performed by early Delta blues musicians Garfield Akers and Mississippi Joe Callicott in 1929.

    The whereabouts of Thomas after 1929 have not been chronicled, although he was reportedly seen in Texas in the 1950s.[5] The date and circumstances of his death are uncertain. His complete Vocalion recordings were compiled on a 1990 Yazoo Records CD titled Texas Worried Blues.

    Here's one of his recordings. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ochN-6Yr8lM

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    Great stuff jimmmmmm

    This is what this site should be about......

    I got this book from the ALLIGATOR RECORDS website.... WWW.ALLIGATOR.COM called " NOTHING BUT THE BLUES " by COHEN

    This book IMO covers the forefathers and those who followed after in chronological order.
    An excellent read and must have for anyone wanting to know the real History of the Blues.

    Here is the link where you guys can buy it from amazon http://www.amazon.com/Nothing-But-Bl.../dp/0789206072

    This book is one of the FEW books I can read....I like books with pics and especially facts and this book has it all.

    Check it out and see what ya think.

    GREAT WORK JIMMMM

    J

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    No summary of the blues artist's lives would be complete without Leadbelly.

    Leadbelly. Born: January 20, 1888 in Mooringsport LA. Died: December 6, 1949 in New York NY

    Born as Huddie Ledbetter in Louisiana, Leadbelly’s music and tumultuous life would have a profound effect on both blues and folk musicians alike. Like most performers of his era, Leadbelly’s musical repertoire extended beyond the blues to incorporate ragtime, country, folk, prison songs, popular standards, and even gospel songs. Leadbelly performed for a while with his friend Blind Lemon Jefferson in Texas, honing his skills on the twelve-string guitar, but it is his reinvention of traditional folk and blues songs, carried on from the African-American oral tradition, for which he is best known.

    Singing For His Freedom

    Throughout his life, Ledbetter's temper often landed him in trouble, and after killing a man in Texas in 1917, he was sentenced to an extended term in the notorious state prison in Huntsville, where he was given his "Leadbelly" nickname. While jailed in Huntsville, Leadbelly wrote and sang a song for the governor that led to his early release in 1925. Unfortunately, a few years after his release from prison in Texas, the singer was convicted on an assault charge and sentenced to a term in Louisiana’s Angola Penitentiary.

    Lomax.


    It was while in Angola that Leadbelly met and recorded for Library of Congress musicologists John Lomax, and his son Alan, who came to the prison in 1933 looking for folk songs to document. This first Leadbelly recording session has never been commercially released, although songs from a second session in the summer of 1934 have appeared on various compilations.
    After his release from prison, Leadbelly went to work as John Lomax's chauffer, travelling with him to other prisons in search of folk music. Leadbelly continued to perform and record throughout the 1930s, often under the aegis of the Lomaxes. He eventually relocated in New York City, where he found favor on the city’s folk scene spearheaded by Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger.
    After his death from ALS in 1949, Leadbelly songs like "Midnight Special," "Goodnight, Irene" and "The Rock Island Line" became hits for artists as diverse as the Weavers, Frank Sinatra, Johnny Cash, and Ernest Tubb.

    Recommended Albums: Midnight Special features incredible raw performances of many of Leadbelly's best known songs, many captured in 1934 by the Lomaxes.

    Rock Island Line by Leadbelly: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lCiJ4QQG9WQ

    Now this is a song that has become a staple of bluegrass. In the Pines - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sp3af...eature=related

    And finally, Goodnight Irene which has been covered by multiple country artists as well as Jimi Hendrix and Little Richard. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YCj3d9myELQ&feature=related

    I found the only film ever recorded with Leadbelly, made by Folk Singer Pete Seegar.

    The reason for the hypothesis is the book written by John Lomax entitled "Negro Folk Songs as Sung By Lead Belly". Since Leadbelly was chauffer for the Lomax duo for several years, it would appear that they considered him and his music "folk".

    I know many of his songs were ones that I learned very early in life...

    Goodnight Irene
    Where Did You Sleep Last Night (In the Pines)
    Blue Tail fly
    Old Time Religion
    Salty Dog

    Just to name a few.
    Note, I didn't classify him as country although many of his songs were definitely covered within the country and western genre.

    The only known film of Leadbelly was by Pete Seegar.

    http://www.spike.com/video-clips/rx5...s-by-leadbelly
    Last edited by tenn_jim; 09-11-2011 at 04:21 PM. Reason: Adding film link.

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    You and I think similarly, Jim, I was going to ask you when you were going to do Huddie Ledbetter!
    Yer guitar pickin' friend,
    Brown Bad Boy McGee (aka Herb)
    "It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing, 'n stuff!"


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    Hope you don't mind, I stuck this thread so it will always be at the top. I thought it was important enough for that.
    Yer guitar pickin' friend,
    Brown Bad Boy McGee (aka Herb)
    "It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing, 'n stuff!"


 

 

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