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Posts Tagged ‘Robert Johnson’

Died On This Date (September 20, 2011) Frank Driggs / Record Producer & Jazz Historian

Posted by themusicsover on September 20, 2011

Frank Driggs
1930 – September 20, 2011

Frank Driggs was a jazz lover who became one of the genre’s most respected historians and collectors.  Because of his reputation, producer legend, John Hammond hired him during the late ’50s to help him put packages together for Columbia Records.  While at the label, Driggs worked on releases by the likes of Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, and the most celebrated, Robert Johnson’s Robert Johnson: The Complete Recordings which won Driggs a Grammy in 1991.  He also produced records for Bluebird, Okeh, and MCA, to name a few.  Meanwhile, Driggs was gathering jazz photos, hand bills, ticket stubs and such for his own personal collection which, by the mid 2000s, swelled to over 100,000 images.   After retiring in 1977,  Driggs continued to earn a living by providing photographs for books and documentaries, the highest profile being perhaps Ken Burns’ Jazz series of 2001.  Frank Driggs passed away of natural causes on September 20, 2011.  He was 81.

Thanks to Harold Lepidus for the assist.



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Died On This Date (August 29, 2011) David “Honeyboy” Edwards / Delta Blues Great

Posted by themusicsover on August 29, 2011

David “Honeyboy” Edwards
June 28, 1915 – August 29, 2011

David “Honeyboy” Edwards was one of the last surviving Delta blues greats from the ’30s.  Edwards was just 14 when he left his Mississippi home to go on the tour with Big Joe Williams, and it was on that road he stayed for the better part of the next two decades.  During those early years, he also shared the stage and a close friendship with the great Robert Johnson, making him one of the last living links to the legend.  In fact, he was the ONLY link to the legend of Johnson’s sudden demise.  On that hot August night in 1938, Edwards was with Johnson when he drank the poisoned whiskey that killed him.  It was Edwards’ version of the lore that has long been considered the most accurate account.   Edwards also performed with the likes of Charley Patton, Johnny Shines, and Tommy Johnson.  Edwards made relatively few recordings through the late ’80s – mostly for folklorists Alan Lomax and Peter B. Lowery.  Thankfully he became more active in the studio during his later years.  He released his autobiography, The World Don’t Owe Me Nothin’ in 1997 and continued to tour well into his 90s.  On July 17, 2011, David “Honeyboy” Edwards, the “Last of the Great Mississippi Delta Bluesmen,” passed away at the age of 96.

Thanks to Harold Lepidus of the Bob Dylan Examiner for the assist

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White Windows - David

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Died On This Date (August 16, 1938) Robert Johnson / Blues Icon

Posted by themusicsover on August 16, 2010

Robert Johnson
May 11, 1911 – August 16, 1938

Member of the 27 Club

Although his recording career remarkably spanned roughly one year, Robert Johnson is considered by many to be the most influential blues artists of all time.  And although his entire catalog of recordings fill just two compact discs, Rolling Stone magazine ranked him #5 on their list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time.  He minimal recording output couldn’t deny the considerable vocal, guitar-playing and songwriting talent he possessed.  And that fact that not much is known about his history coupled with the fact that only two photographs of him even exist, add to a legend that is as big as any in popular music.  Even the most respected historians of music could, at best, find sources who claimed they heard “this” or “that” about Johnson’s life in and around Clarksdale, Mississippi.  A popular legend has it that he went to a darkened Mississippi crossroad with his guitar and met a man representing the devil who tuned his guitar and played a few songs on it, there bequeathing Johnson phenomenal guitar skills in exchange for is soul.   True or not, Johnson has been called the “grandfather of rock ‘n roll,” a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and has been cited as a direct influence on the likes of Eric Clapton, Muddy Waters, Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan and Jeff Beck to name just a very few.  Robert Johnson’s death is as mysterious as his life,with the most popular, though disputed story being that he drank whiskey that had been laced with strychnine by the jealous husband of a woman Johnson is said to have flirted with at a juke joint.  He allegedly died a slow and painful death from the poison a few days later, at the age of just 27.  A further testament to the overall mystery surrounding Johnson’s life is the fact there are three separate tombstones said to mark his place of burial.

What You Should Own

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Robert Johnson: The Complete Recordings - Robert Johnson

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Died On This Date (May 25, 1965) Sonny Boy Williamson II

Posted by themusicsover on May 25, 2010

Sonny Boy Williamson II (Born Rice Miller)
December 5, 1899 or May 11, 1908 – May 25, 1965

There’s likely only one person who could say they played alongside not only Robert Johnson, but also Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Eric Burden, and Robbie Robertson; that person is Sonny Boy Williamson II. Born on a plantation, Williamson worked along with his father as a sharecropper until he decided to head out on his own in the early ’30s with a harmonica along for the ride. He would meet up and play with the likes of Elmore James, Robert Lockwood Jr., and the great Robert Johnson. Besides having tremendous skills on the harmonica, Williamson learned a few tricks to dazzle his audiences, like playing it with no hands or playing it while nestled between his upper lip and nose. I should point out that around this time, there was another harmonica-playing Sonny Boy Williamson gaining popularity throughout the blues world. So to distinguish the two, this one (Rice Miller) was referred to as “Number 2” or “The Second,” even though he claimed to have started using the stage name first. Williamson made his first recordings for Trumpet Records in 1951, but when the label went bankrupt in 1955, his contract became the property of the renowned Chess Records who helped him achieve much greater success. By the ’60s he was being embraced by the new British blues-rock artists as a main influence affording him the opportunity to record with the Animals and the Yardbirds. Williamson recorded some 70 songs during his career, many of which are considered blues staples and have been covered by Aerosmith, the Who, Led Zeppelin, Van Morrison, Nick Cave, the New York Dolls, and the Allman Brothers to name but a few. Sadly, as Williamson was gaining a new fame and fortune, he was found dead in his room on May 25, 1965 of an apparent heart attack.

What You Should Own

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Died On This Date (April 29, 1935) Leroy Carr / Depression Era Blues Star

Posted by themusicsover on April 29, 2010

Leroy Carr
March 27, 1905 – April 29, 1935

Leroy Carr was a blues singer, songwriter and pianist who didn’t quite fit the old blues man stereotype of the day.  As a suave young man from Indianapolis, his style of crooning would be more Nat King Cole than Muddy Waters; more Ray Charles than Robert Johnson.  And because of (or in spite of) that, he was one of the most popular blues men of the Depression era.  Some of his most popular recordings were with Scrapper Blackwell, with whom he recorded some 100 sides.  His most famous song, “How Long Blues,” was later covered by Eric Clapton.  Carr passed away of the effects of alcohol at just 30.

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Whiskey Is My Habit, Good Women Is All I Crave - The Best of Leroy Carr - Leroy Carr

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