Georgia Blues Legends

A lot of important Blues artists came from Georgia. Here's a partial list:

“Route 66 Road Trip”
A tribute to Eddie TIGNER –
A true father of the Atlanta Rhythm and Blues scene. Eight decades of entertaining under the belt, working with the Ink Spots through the 1950s, touring under his own name afterwards. I can't recall anyone who has been more beloved and celebrated over the last 30 years that I called Atlanta my blues home. Thanks to Maurice, Matt and Kelly Harper, Ira Malkin, Carlos Capote, Frank Robinson, Fred Pittman, Stephen Talkovich. A perfect time to leave our troubles behind, bury the hatchet and stand once again in the shadow of a man who set the bar so very high.

Creative Loafing published a nice article:

As did Atlanta Magazine a few years back: LINK

RIP Morris “Magic Slim” Holt,
August 7, 1937 – February 21, 2013.

With the passing of Magic Slim we say farewell to one of the greatest traditional Chicago blues artists of our time. Magic Slim died of complications from a breathing disorder after weeks of hospitalization. He was 75.

Though a great singer, guitarist and band leader, it was Magic Slim‘s undeniable personality that set him apart. He could play heartfelt, rough and tumble Chicago blues with a zest that was unmatched.  Every part of Magic Slim‘s being was the blues – his geographical path, his hard partying, fun loving personality, and his far traveling, dedicated lifestyle.

Magic Slim‘s patented two guitar driven Chicago blues sound was both a concert hall pleaser and a dance floor filler. He had, perhaps the largest repertoire in the blues, knowing thousands of songs that he could call upon at any time. Living Blues Magazine put it this way; “Magic Slim consistently offers no-frills houserockin’ blues. He and his band are a national treasure.”
Born in rural Mississippi to a farming life, Slim lost his little finger in a cotton gin accident at a young age, but that did not seem to hinder his guitar playing. He arrived on the Chicago blues scene in the mid 1960s initially to a luke-warm response, but after recruiting his brother Nick to play bass, Magic Slim & the Teardrops were formed, and in 1966 their first single “Scuffin” was released. Some years later, Slim’s 1975 single “I Wonder Why” produced by Steve Cushing (then a drummer in Slim’s band) won high praise for it’s raw, gutsy sound.

Slim’s recordings will live as a permanent testament to his greatness with over 30 albums released on labels such as Alligator, Wolf, MCM,Black & Blue, Candy Apple, Rooster Blues,Red Lightnin’, Delmark, Evidence, Isabel, Storyville, Tone Zone, and most recently, BlindPig Records who have annually released top quality albums by this great artist. He received numerous awards and nominations for his recordings. his band and for his role as a uncompromising traditional blues artist.

Thanks to Slim’s manager Marty Salzman and road manager Michael Blakemore for their amazing behind the scenes support work. Also thanks to the booking work of Max Cooperstein, Concerted Efforts, Adrian Flores, and Jillina Arrigo for their contributions over the years. Slim always lived his life on his terms and he met and exceeded his dreams. We can look back and think of all the times that he brought a smile to our face. He was the consummate bluesman and we will always love him for that. May he now rest in peace after his tireless work here on earth. We thank God for blessing us with the blues of Magic Slim.

By Bob Corritore

Alligator president Bruce Iglauer, Rabson’s long-time friend and producer, says Ann was a driving force in the blues world. “Our dear friend Ann Rabson was an extraordinary blues singer, pianist and guitarist and a delightful, smart and funny person. As a founding member of Saffire–The Uppity Blues Women, a solo recording artist and a live performer, she brought her talent, intelligence and intense love for the blues tradition to every piece of music she played and sang. Ann never gave her music or the rest of her life less than 100% of her commitment. She was a loyal friend, a dedicated champion of the blues, a loving partner to her husband George, and an unforgettable woman. We were blessed to have known her.”

Rabson was born in New York on April 12, 1945 and raised in Ohio. As a child she was touched by the blues. “Blues speaks to me directly. It wasn’t a choice, I was drawn to it naturally, sort of like a sheepdog with sheep,” she said. She received a guitar from her father when she was 17 and found role models in Big Bill Broonzy and Memphis Minnie, one of the few early female blues guitarists. Ann quickly became an accomplished guitar player and first sang professionally while still in high school. By age 18 she was performing around the Midwest. In 1971, Ann moved with her daughter to Fredericksburg, Virginia, where she performed full-time and gave music lessons on the side. During this time, Ann and her guitar student, Gaye Adegbalola, decided to perform together and the seeds of Saffire–The Uppity Blues Women were sown.

They pooled their money and recorded a demo tape, which they then forwarded to Alligator Records. Their 1990 self-titled debut became one of the label’s best-selling releases. With the addition of Andra Faye McIntosh in 1992, the trio continued to win over audiences around the world with their wholly original and captivating albums and joyous live performances. Their recordings for Alligator are among the best-selling in the label’s catalog. Ann released her first solo album, Music Makin’ Mama, in 1997. When Saffire–The Uppity Blues Women disbanded after 25 years. In 2009, Rabson recorded three solo albums and continued to perform solo and with friends, including guitarist Bob Margolin. She appeared on recordings for numerous artists, including Cephas & Wiggins, Pinetop Perkins, EG Kight and Ani DiFranco.

Ann is survived by her husband George Newman, daughter Liz Rabson Schnore and granddaughter Georgia Rabson Schnore.

Music Maker Partner/Artist Precious Bryant, (b. January 4, 1942), of Waverly Hall, Georgia, passed away over the weekend, on January 12th, 2013. We at Music Maker, along with the Music Maker artists who encountered Precious, and the fans whose lives she touched, all receive this news with deep sadness.

Precious was an amazingly gifted songwriter and spell-binding performer, who picked up the guitar at age nine, performing Piedmont Blues for her home community for over 15 years until meeting folklorist George Mitchell in 1967. In 1995 Music Maker Relief Foundation founder Tim Duffy met Precious, who told him, “The way I learned how to play a song, I would listen to the song on the radio and write the words down, and I wouldn’t worry about the music, ‘cause I could get the music. All I wanted to know was the words.”

Precious recorded three albums in her lifetime, Fool Me Good (2002) and The Truth (2005) both earned her Blues Music Award Nominations. In 2005 Music Maker Relief Foundation released My Name is Precious, which would be her final recorded album.

Music Maker helped Precious financially through the years, providing her with a monthly stipend for prescription medicine, food, and utility bills. In addition, Music Maker provided professional quality guitars and performance opportunities in the U.S. and Europe, including at the Lincoln Center, Blues to Bop in Lugano, Switzerland, and the Port Townsend Blues Festival. Precious is also featured in the book Music Makers: Portraits and Songs from the Roots of America (2004.) In 2012 Music Maker was able to provide Precious with a new, second-hand mobile home with the help of supporters around the U.S., including blues legend Bonnie Raitt.

Precious is survived by her son Tony, her grandson, and her sister Zola. She will be sorely missed by staff, artists and members of the Foundation, our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends.

Goodbye Ms. Precious Bryant… go now and rest.

From Blind Pig Records:

Guitarist, songwriter and vocalist Nick Curran passed away on Saturday, October 6th,2012 at his home in Austin, Texas, it was announced by his management. He was 35 years old.

Curran was a powerhouse performer who drew inspiration from the blues and rockabilly artists of the 50′s and became renowned for his uncanny knack of authentically recreating the feel, vibe, and swagger of classic R&B and rock.

He cut his teeth playing with rockabilly legends Ronnie Dawson and Kim Lenz. A native of Maine, Curran moved to Dallas and immersed himself in the Texas roots music scene, eventually releasing two albums on the Texas Jamboree label, Fixin’ Your Head and Nitelife Boogie. As he would do on all his albums, Curran used vintage recording equipment and a one take technique to achieve not only the sound but also the feel of vintage 45s. His national debut, Doctor Velvet on Blind Pig, was released in 2003 to critical acclaim, with a number of publications calling it the album of the year. It also attracted international attention with rave reviews in the U.K. and Germany and a “Best New International Blues Artist” award in France.

A twenty-first century hybrid of Little Richard and T-Bone Walker, Curran displayed a veteran’s mastery of the nuances of roots rock and blues idioms, yet did it in such a way that made the familiar sound startlingly new. With his raw, powerful voice and stinging guitar, he quickly established himself as one of the freshest, most exciting new talents on the scene.

Doctor Velvet included guest appearances by Curran admirer Jimmie Vaughan (who called him “just a total ass-kicker”). The album went on to win the W.C. Handy Award, blues music’s most prestigious award, for “Best New Artist Debut.” Nick Curran and the Nitelifes released their second Blind Pig album, Player!, in 2004 but the band broke up shortly afterward when Nick was asked to join Kim Wilson’s latest reincarnation of The Fabulous Thunderbirds, just in time to record the band’s Painted On release.

He toured with the T-Birds for three years, and also worked on side projects such as Deguello, a blues/punk combo he formed with another T-Bird alum, Ronnie James, and a punk/rock ‘n’ roll band named The Flash Boys. In 2008 he performed four songs in a scene in the HBO Series “True Blood.”

His last album, Reform School Girl, was released in 2010 on the Eclectro Groove label. That year he was also diagnosed with oral cancer, and had been undergoing treatment until succumbing over the weekend.

Blind Pig executive Edward Chmelewski said, “We were all very saddened to hear the news of Nick’s death. He was an extremely talented musician and a very sweet guy. A truly gifted artist, he captured a golden musical moment in time and made it his own.”

R.I.P. Michael Burks, July 30, 1957 – May 6, 2012

Michael “Iron Man” Burks earned his moniker by his hours-long, intensely physical performances, fearsome guitar attack, and tough, smoky vocals. He also earned it by the thousands of miles he personally logged behind the wheel of his touring van. Burks was a true modern blues hero whose music was driven by an intense, blue collar work ethic that had won him well-deserved national and international recognition. His instantly identifiable guitar sound and his live charisma earned him four Blues Music Award nominations. He won the 2004 Living Blues magazine Critics’ Award for Best Guitarist. Burks received a nomination for the 2012 Blues Music Award for Best Guitarist.

Born in Milwaukee in 1957, Burks grew up immersed in the blues, and learned to play guitar at an early age. His family moved to Camden, Arkansas in the early 1970s. There, Burks and his siblings helped their father build the Bradley Ferry Country Club — a 300-seat juke joint. By this time Michael was fronting his own band as well as backing several of the blues and R&B greats that passed through town. Burks left music to raise a family and returned to performing blues in the 1990s.

After self-releasing his first CD in 1997, Burks signed with Chicago’s Alligator Records in 2001 and released three critically acclaimed albums. GuitarOne named his debut album,Make It Rain, one of the Top 200 greatest guitar recordings of all time. He has toured the world, headlining blues festivals, concert halls and clubs. His status as an Arkansas musical hero was confirmed by his receipt of the prestigious Sonny Payne Award for Blues Excellence in 2006, presented by the Delta Cultural Center, and by his multiple headlining appearances at The Arkansas Blues & Heritage Festival. Burks had just finished recording his fourth Alligator CD, which is due for release at the end of July 2012.

“Burks has learned to burn his own signature onto almost everything he touches. The aching passion of Burks’ voice and the probing intensity of his guitar lines come together in a searing evocation of desire and desperation. Burks has the ability and the imagination to fuse the best of the old and the new.” – Living Blues
(Obit courtesy of Alligator Records)

R.I.P. Iverson Minter, aka Louisiana Red, March 23, 1932 – February 25, 2012.

It is with a heavy heart that we report the passing of one of the greatest and most beloved traditional blues artists. Louisiana Red died this afternoon at a hospital in Germany after several days in a coma brought on by thyroid imbalance. He was 79. Louisiana Red was a powerful down-home blues artist who could channel his teachers (among them Muddy Waters, Elmore James, Robert Nighthawk, Lightnin’ Hopkins and John Lee Hooker) into his own heartfelt musical conversation, delivered with such moving passion and honesty that it would leave his audiences indelibly touched. He was a fine singer with a distinctive voice, and an amazing guitarist who could play all the traditional blues styles and excelled as one of the world’s greatest slide guitarists.

Soul Legend Dies in California
The legendary Etta James has passed. Within days of her birthday January 25,
our Etta is gone, but her music will live on forever.

Manager Lupe de Leon said the singer died early Friday at a hospital in Riverside, California. She was 73 years old.

Husband Artis Mills and her sons were at her side, de Leon said. “It’s a tremendous loss for her fans around the world,” he said. “She’ll be missed. A great American singer. Her music defied category.”

James’ enduring hits include the yearning, passionate wedding “At Last” — sung by Beyonce to President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle during his 2008 inauguration — and “Tell Mama”.

The singer, who also suffered from kidney diseases and dementia, was admitted to hospital last month as she was struggling to breathe. She had been in failing health for several years. In December her doctor said James was considered terminally ill, and she communicated mostly with nods and simple words. The three-time Grammy Award singer had also battled obesity and was addicted to heroin for many years. On January 6 her manager announced that she had left hospital and was resting at home with her husband and her doctor. “We all think it’s best for her to be at home,” de Leon said. It is not clear when she was readmitted to hospital.

James was a key figure in the early days of R&B music with hit songs like “The Wallflower” and “Good Rockin’ Daddy”. But it was her 1961 recording of the ballad “At Last” that put her on the map. She currently has a CD out called “The Dreamer.” She would have turned 74 on Wednesday.

During her illness, her husband Mills and her two sons fought bitterly over control of her $1 million estate, though a deal was later struck keeping Mills as the conservator and capping the singer’s expenses at $350,000.

Boldness was as much a trademark of James, a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as her platinum-dyed mane. She scored her first hit when she was just a teenager with the suggestive “Roll With Me, Henry,” which had to be changed to “The Wallflower” in order to get airplay. Over the years, she’d notch many more, carving a niche for herself with her husky, soulful voice and her sassy attitude, which permeated her songs.

But it was the jazz-inflected rendition of “At Last” that would come to define her and make her legendary. The song, which starts with sumptuous strings before James begins to sing, was a remake of a 1941 standard. James made it her own, and her version became the new standard.

But the tender, sweet song belied the turmoil that James — born Jamesette Hawkins in Los Angeles — would endure for much of her life. Her mother — whom she described in her 1995 autobiography “Rage to Survive” as a scam artist, a substance abuser and unstable — was a fleeting presence in her life during her youth. She never knew her father, although she had been told that he was the famous billiards player Minnesota Fats. When she was older, she met him and asked about the rumor. He wouldn’t confirm or deny it: as James recalled, he simply told her: “I don’t remember everything. I wish I did, but I don’t.”

She was raised by Lula and Jesse Rogers, who owned the rooming house her mother once lived in. The pair brought up James in the Christian faith, but rhythm and blues soon lured her away from the church, and she found herself drawn to the grittiness of the music.

“My mother always wanted me to be a jazz singer, but I always wanted to be raunchy,” she recalled in her book.

She was doing just that when bandleader Johnny Otis, who also died this week, found her singing on San Francisco street corners with a couple of girlfriends in the early 1950s. When Otis heard their rendition of “Roll With Me, Henry,” he told James to get her mother’s permission to accompany him to Los Angeles to make a recording. Instead, the 15-year-old went home and forged her mother’s name on a note claiming she was 18.

James did get her accolades over the years. She was inducted into the Rock Hall in 1993, captured a Grammy in 2003 for best contemporary blues album for “Let’s Roll;” one in 2004 for best traditional blues album for “Blues to the Bone;” and one for best jazz vocal performance for 1994′s “Mystery Lady: Songs of Billie Holiday.”

She was also awarded a special Grammy in 2003 for lifetime achievement and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

RIP Johnny Otis — December 28, 1921 to January 17, 2012.
From our friend Bob Corritore:

Ioannis Alexandres Veliotes, who is best known as Johnny Otis, was one of the true bedrock figures of blues, rhythm & blues & early rock & roll. He died at age 90 at his home in the Los Angeles suburb of Altadena after years of decreasing health. Johnny Otis did it all: singer, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, producer, bandleader, talent scout, radio show host, television show host, label owner, nightclub owner, sculptor and painter, author, and he even had his own brand of apple juice! He had a vibrant personality, a sharp look, and the ability to get things done. He was an essential part of many of the greatest moments in rhythm & blues! As as white man of Greek decent, Otis truly embraced black culture, and very decidedly and successfully led his own black music movement. The huge list of his musical contributions show super-human qualities, and his amazing story is well told from Lee Hildrebrand words from Johnny’s own website:

“Johnny Otis was born December 28, 1921 in Vallejo, California. He grew up in a predominantly black neighborhood in Berkeley, California, where his father owned and operated a neighborhood grocery store. He began his musical career in 1939 as a drummer with Count Otis Matthew’s West Oakland House Rockers. In 1943, at the recommendation of Nat “King” Cole and Jimmy Witherspoon, he moved to Los Angeles to join Harlan Leonard’s Kansas City Rockets at the Club Alabam. By 1945 he was leading his own band, and had his first big hit that year with “Harlem Nocturne”. In 1948 he joined with Bardu and Tila Ali, and Johnny Miller to open The Barrelhouse in Los Angeles, which was the first nightclub to feature Rhythm & Blues exclusively. In 1950 he had ten songs that made the Top 10 on Billboard Magazine’s Best Selling Retail Rhythm & Blues Records list. With this success, he went on the road with his California Rhythm & Blues Caravan, and became the hottest musical attraction in black America. In the early 1950′s, remaining active as a writer, performer, and producer, Johnny began a radio career and became one of the most popular disc jockeys in southern California. His career in radio has now spanned almost 50 years. His early radio broadcast success led to a weekly variety show on television. “The Johnny Otis Show” was on TV in Los Angeles for eight years.

Johnny Otis discovered many legendary Rhythm and Blues singers such as Esther Phillips, Willie Mae “Big Momma” Thornton, Etta James, and the Robins (who evolved into the Coasters), all of whom were at one time featured vocalists in his band. He also discovered Sugar Pie DeSanto, Hank Ballard and the Midnighters, Jackie Wilson, and Little Willie John. He produced, and with his band played on the original recording of “Hound Dog” with “Big Momma” Thornton. He produced and played on Johnny Ace’s “Pledging My Love”, and produced some of Little Richard’s earliest recordings. On his own Blues Spectrum label, Johnny has recorded and played with Rhythm & Blues pioneers such as Big Joe Turner, Gatemouth Moore, Amos Milburn, Richard Berry, Joe Liggins, Roy Milton, Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson, Charles Brown, and Louis Jordan. Johnny played the drums on Charles Brown’s first major hit “Driftin’ Blues” in 1946. He also recorded with Illinois Jacquet, and Lester Young. One of the many highlights of his long career was when he performed as a drummer with the great Count Basie Orchestra.

In the 1960′s Johnny served as Deputy Chief of Staff to Mervin Dymally, whose career he followed from the State Assembly, State Senate, Lieutenant Governorship of California, to the U.S. Congress. His first book “Listen To The Lambs”, which addressed the 1965 race riots was published in 1968. His next book, “Upside Your Head! Rhythm & Blues on Central Avenue” was published in 1993. Many of his paintings, sculptures, and wood carvings are displayed in “Colors and Chords — The Art of Johnny Otis” which was published in 1995. His most recent book, “Johnny Otis — Red Beans & Rice and Other Rock ‘n’ Roll Recipes” was published in 1997.

Johnny Otis’s song writing credits include “Every Beat of My Heart”, (a song he wrote originally for Jackie Wilson, but was made a hit by Gladys Knight and the Pips), “Roll With Me Henry”, (also known as “The Wallflower”), “So Fine”, “Willie And The Hand Jive” (which sold over 1.5 million copies), and many, many others.

Johnny has been inducted into the Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame, into the Blues Hall of Fame and into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The Archives of African American Music and Culture at the University of Indiana has cataloged hundreds of hours of his past radio shows for his interviews, comments, insights, and historical significance. He has remained active in his recording studio and has put out 6 CD’s on his label since the mid-nineties.”

R.I.P. Hubert Sumlin,
November 16, 1931 – December 4, 2011

Legendary Bluesman Hubert Sumlin passed away early Sunday. No official word yet. Magic Fred received word from Tom Hyslop and wanted to get the word out to the Atlanta Blues Family. Please send on to others who knew and appreciated the man who thrilled us on such classics as “Shake for Me” ,”Wang Dang Doodle” and “Spoonful“.

Many thanks to Brian Sumner for passing on these great YouTube clips of Hubert Sumlin.

RIP Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, 1936-2011

We are sad to report the passing of a true Blues legend, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith this morning in Chicago. Blues Blast Magazine had the honor of recently interviewing Willie for one of our cover stories for the May 26th issue.* This sad news comes from our good friend Bob Corritore who has provided the following information on this great Bluesman.

“It is with great sadness that we report the unexpected passing of one the true greats of the blues. Willie “Big Eyes” Smith. Willie passed away this morning of a stroke. He was 75 and was musically active until the very end.

A brilliant drummer, harmonica player and vocalist, he represented the true essence of Chicago Blues, and was highly regarded by all as an undisputed master. He was an alumni of the Muddy Waters band and wore those stripes with honor. Willie “Big Eyes” Smith was born in Helena, Arkansas in 1936, and started playing harmonica at age 17, shortly after moving to Chicago. His harmonica first appeared on record in the 1950s gracing recordings by Arthur “Big Boy” Spires, and Bo Diddley (Willie played the harmonica on the Diddley classic “Diddy Wah Diddy”).
At some point in the mid to late 1950s he started playing drums and in 1959 began his long association with Muddy Waters. Smith’s drumming first appeared on record on Muddy Waters’ 1960 album release of Sings Big Bill Broonzy. Smith had a real gift for drumming and his playing would help to define the later Muddy Waters Band sound.

Many of us remember the classic Muddy Waters lineup of Muddy, Willie, Pinetop Perkins, Bob Margolin, Luther “Guitar Junior” Johnson, and Calvin “Fuzz” Jones. In June of 1980 members of Muddy’s band struck out on there own, and formed the Legendary Blues Band which eventually found Willie as the lead vocalist, showcasing his stellar, down-home vocals. Willie released his first solo album, Bag Full of Blues in 1995, which firmly established him as an artist in his own right. Willie would revive his first instrument in later years, and in 1996 he would release Way Back, which debuted his new direction, and showed him to be a solid harmonicist. His final recording, Joined At The Hip was a collaboration with the now deceased Pinetop Perkins, and it it earned the two a Grammy in the Traditional Blues category.
Bob Kieser

* That issue can be read at:

RIP David “Honeyboy” Edwards, 1915-2011
Courtesy of the Chicago

August 29, 2011 - David “Honeyboy” Edwards, a bluesman who had been wowing audiences for over 80 years, died early Monday morning of congestive heart failure while resting at home, according to the performer’s official website. He was 96.

Born in 1915, Edwards left home when he was 14 years old, to perform with Big Joe Williams. It was a life on the road that the classic Delta blues player continued right up to April of this year, when his health took a turn for the worse. His last live outings were in Mississippi, on April 16 and 17.

The list of musicians that Edwards played with is long, also serving as a Who’s Who of great blues artists. Edwards has worked with Robert Johnson, Charlie Patton, Big Joe Williams, Rice “Sonny Boy Williamson” Miller, Howlin’ Wolf, Sunnyland Slim, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Big Walter, Little Walter, Magic Sam, Muddy Waters. Edwards’ career included several hit songs, such as “Long Tall Woman Blues,” “Gamblin Man” and “Just Like Jesse James.” He has won two Grammy awards, in 2008 for best traditional blues album, and a 2010 lifetime achievement award. Edwards’ biography, “The World Don’t Owe Me Nothing,” first published in 1997, described his life of almost constant motion and performing.

He moved to Chicago in the early 1950s, and became a fixture on the city’s blues scene, including gigs at the Chicago Blues Festival and Millennium Park.

RIP Pinetop Perkins, July 7, 1915 – March 21, 2011.
Courtesy of Bob Corritore:
Nobody can live forever, but for a period of time in his long life of 97 years, the legendary Pinetop Perkins made us think it was possible. It is with tears that we say goodbye to one of the most loved and highly respected blues musicians of our time. Pinetop Perkins died today of heart failure at his home in Austin, Texas. We know that Pinetop led a rich and happy life, and that he understood the simple pleasures, which he enjoyed everyday. Pinetop Perkins was born in Belzoni, Mississippi. He began his career as a guitarist, but then injured the tendons in his left arm in a fight with a choir-girl in Helena, Arkansas. Unable to play guitar, Pinetop switched to the piano. He got his moniker from playing the popular ”Pinetop’s Boogie Woogie”, a 1928 hit by pianist Pinetop Smith. He spent his 97th birthday flying to Spain to play a blues festival, and this year he won his third Grammy for “Best Traditional Blues album” for Joined At The Hip, his collaboration with Willie “Big Eyes” Smith on the Telarc label. We will miss Pinetop’s distinctive voice and his elegant, interactive piano style. He has touched all of us with his charm, his talent, and his loving approach to life. Though we hate to say goodbye, we have to be thankful for the great joy that he brought us. God bless you Pinetop.

RIP Big Jack Johnson, July 30, 1940 – March 14, 2011.
Courtesy of Bob Corritore:

Sad news came in from Dave Riley and Amy Brat that legendary Mississippi guitarist/mandolinist/vocalist Big Jack Johnson has passed away this morning at 6am in his hometown of Clarksdale, Mississippi after a long battle with heath issues. He was 70 years old. Note that there were some disturbing premature false announcements of Big Jack’s passing 3 days before his actual passing. Big Jack’s inventive, energetic, Delta-rooted guitar, rich confident vocals, down home songwriting, and larger than life stage presence made him one of the most celebrated bluesmen of Mississippi. His long music career included much national and international touring, many amazing record releases, and a huge amount of praise and respect. He was a popular festival and club entertainer, a warm and hospitable person, and an amazing musician. Big Jack Johnson was the last original member of the Jelly Roll Kings. His passing leaves a gap in the blues that will never again be filled. To see his amazing performance of “Catfish Blues” from the movie Deep Blues, click here. Thanks for all the great music Big Jack.

RIP Eddie Kirkland
August 16, 1923 to February 27, 2011
From Bob Corritone:

Guitarist/singer/harmonica player Eddie Kirkland died yesterday in a auto accident in Tampa, Florida. He was 87 years old. Eddie Kirkland was born in Jamaica, and raised in Alabama. After military service in World War II, he relocated to Detroit and started working with John Lee Hooker, with whom he made some spectacular classic recordings. His sympathetic stylistic interaction with Hooker created some of most richly textured down home blues recordings ever recorded. While still with Hooker, he recorded a few 1950s sides under his own name for Modern, RPM, Federal and later Fortune. His version of “Done Somebody Wrong” influenced Elmore James who would record his own arrangement of the song.

During the ’60s he recorded singles for Lupine andStax before making his first album with the King Curtis band which was released on the True Sound label. He would go on to make records with Trix, JSP, Deluge, Blue Suit, Telarc, Evidence, Fantastic, and other labels, as well as making recorded guest appearances on releases by Johnny Rawls, the Wentus Blues Band (from Finland) and Foghat. Eddie had an amazing work ethic and would tour constantly. His shows were pure energy, and he always played with a beautiful down-home rough edge, even while playing more contemporary blues and soul songs. He wore a scarf over his head which became his trademark but it also covered a metal plate that was in his head from an old war wound. Eddie Kirkland symbolized the beauty of down home urban blues, and his many important contributions will live on through the ages.

R.I.P., Sam Carr
Beloved Mississippi blues drummer and band leader Sam Carr has passed away. He was 83. Sam was born into legend as the son of guitarist/vocalist Robert Nighthawk. Sam is best known for his longtime association with Frank Frost & The Jelly Roll Kings.

He was considered one of the greatest blues drummers of all time, and was annually nominated for a Blues Music Award (AKA Handy Award) in the drummer category. He had been struggling with health issues over the last few years, and recently lost his longtime wife Doris, which forced him to live in a nursing facility. For a complete Sam Carr bio by Scott Barretta, click HERE.
- from the Bob Corritore Blues Newsletter

Donnie ‘Donnie Mac’ McCormick, 1944-2009
Atlanta Blues Icon

Miss Cora Mae Bryant 1926-2008
Atlanta Blues Icon

Wayne ‘Bear’ Sauls 1948-2008
Atlanta Blues Icon

Mr. Frank Edwards – 1924-2002

Atlanta Blues Icon

Frank Edwards was born in Washington, the county seat of Wilkes County, Georgia, on March 20th, 1909. “Wilkes County wasn’t nothin’ then but... farming place.” He “always loved the guitar” and bought one when he was 8 or 9 years old, but his father made him “carry it back… he didn’t want it in his house.” At 14, an argument with his father caused young Frank to leave home for St. Augustine, Florida. “I stayed away and didn’t go back until twenty-some years. I ain’t seen him no more since.” The first thing he did when he got away from home was to buy a guitar.
By James Ransone

{for more on Mr. Frank, see:

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