Monday, April 27, 2009

Blind Lemon Jefferson

"Blind" Lemon Jefferson (September 24, 1893[1] or October 26, 1894[2] or July 1897[3] – December 1929[4]) was an influential blues singer and guitarist from Texas. He was one of the most popular blues singers of the 1920s, and has been titled "Father of the Texas Blues."[5]

His musical style was individualistic, and Jefferson's singing and self-accompaniment were distinctive as a result of his high-pitched voice and originality on the guitar.[6] He was not influential on some younger blues singers of his generation, as they did not seek to imitate him as they did other commercially successful artists.[7] However, later blues and rock and roll musicians attempted to imitate both his songs and his musical style.[8]

Early life

Jefferson was born blind near Coutchman, Texas in Freestone County, near present-day Wortham, Texas.[3] Jefferson was one of eight children born to sharecroppers Alex and Clarissa Jefferson.[3] Disputes regarding his exact birth date derive from contradictory census records and draft registration records. By 1900, the family was farming southeast of Streetman, Texas, and Lemon Jefferson's birth date is indicated as September 1893 in the 1900 census.[9] The 1910 census, taken in May before his birthday, further confirms his birth year as 1893, and indicated the family was farming northwest of Wortham, near Lemon Jefferson's birthplace.[10]
In his 1917 draft registration, Jefferson gave his birth date as October 26, 1894, further stating that he then lived in Dallas, Texas, and that he had been blind from birth.[11] In the 1920 Census, he is recorded as having returned to the Freestone County area, and he was living with his half-brother Kit Banks on a farm between Wortham and Streetman.[12]

Black Snake Moan

Jefferson began playing the guitar in his early teens, and soon after he began performing at picnics and parties.[3] He also became a street musician, playing in East Texas towns in front of barbershops and on corners.[3] According to his cousin, Alec Jefferson, quoted in the notes for Blind Lemon Jefferson, Classic Sides:

They was rough. Men was hustling women and selling bootleg and Lemon was singing for them all night... he'd start singing about eight and go on until four in the morning... mostly it would be just him sitting there and playing and singing all night. By the early 1910s, Jefferson began traveling frequently to Dallas, where he met and played with fellow blues musician Leadbelly.[13] In Dallas, Jefferson was one of the earliest and most prominent figures in the blues movement developing in Dallas' Deep Ellum area. Jefferson likely moved to Deep Ellum in a more permanent fashion by 1917, where he met Aaron Thibeaux Walker, also known as T-Bone Walker.[13] Jefferson taught Walker the basics of blues guitar, in exchange for Walker's occasional services as a guide.[13] Also, by the early 1920s, Jefferson was earning enough money for his musical performances to support a wife, and possibly a child.[13] However, firm evidence for both his marriage and any offspring is unavailable.

The beginning of the recording career

Unlike many artists who were "discovered" and recorded in their normal venues, in December 1925 or January 1926, he was taken to Chicago, Illinois, to record his first tracks. Uncharacteristically, Jefferson's first two recordings from this session were gospel songs ("I Want to be like Jesus in my Heart" and "All I Want is that Pure Religion"), released under the name Deacon L. J. Bates. This led to a second recording session in March 1926. His first releases under his own name, "Booster Blues" and "Dry Southern Blues," were hits; this led to the release of the other two songs from that session, "Got the Blues" and "Long Lonesome Blues," which became a runaway success, with sales in six figures. He recorded about 100 tracks between 1926 and 1929; 43 records were issued, all but one for Paramount Records. Unfortunately, Paramount Records' studio techniques and quality were infamously bad, and the resulting recordings sound no better than if they had been recorded in a hotel room. In fact, in May 1926, Paramount had Jefferson re-record his hits "Got the Blues" and "Long Lonesome Blues" in the superior facilities at Marsh Laboratories, and subsequent releases used that version. Both versions appear on compilation albums and may be compared.

Success with Paramount Records

It was largely due to the popularity of artists such as Blind Lemon Jefferson and contemporaries such as Blind Blake and Ma Rainey that Paramount became the leading recording company for the blues in the 1920s.[citation needed] Jefferson's earnings reputedly enabled him to buy a car and employ chauffeurs (although there is debate over the reliability of this as well); he was given a Ford car "worth over $700" by Mayo Williams, Paramount's connection with the black community. This was a frequently seen compensation for recording rights in that market. Jefferson is known to have done an unusual amount of traveling for the time in the American South, which is reflected in the difficulty of pigeonholing his music into one regional category. He sticks to no musical conventions, varying his riffs and rhythm and singing complex and expressive lyrics in a manner exceptional at the time for a "simple country blues singer." According to North Carolina musician Walter Davis, Jefferson played on the streets in Johnson City, Tennessee during the early 1920s at which time Davis and fellow entertainer Clarence Greene learned the art of blues guitar.[14]

Jefferson was reputedly unhappy with his royalties (although Williams said that Jefferson had a bank account containing as much as $1500). In 1927, when Williams moved to OKeh Records, he took Jefferson with him, and OKeh quickly recorded and released Jefferson's "Matchbox Blues" backed with "Black Snake Moan," which was to be his only OKeh recording, probably because of contractual obligations with Paramount. Jefferson's two songs released on Okeh have considerably better sound quality than on his Paramount records at the time. When he had returned to Paramount a few months later, "Matchbox Blues" had already become such a hit that Paramount re-recorded and released two new versions, under producer Arthur Laibly.
In 1927, Jefferson recorded another of his now classic songs, the haunting "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean" (once again using the pseudonym Deacon L. J. Bates) along with two other uncharacteristically spiritual songs, "He Arose from the Dead" and "Where Shall I Be." Of the three, "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean" became such a big hit that it was re-recorded and re-released in 1928.

Death and grave

Jefferson died in Chicago in December 1929. The cause of death is unknown, and though rumors swirled that a jealous lover poisoned his coffee, a more likely scenario is that he died due to a heart attack after being disoriented during a snowstorm (another scenario is that he froze to death). The book "Tolbert's Texas" claims that he was killed while being robbed of a large royalty cash payment by a guide taking him to Union Station to catch a train home to Texas. Paramount Records paid for the return of his body to Texas by train, accompanied by pianist Will Ezell. Jefferson was buried at Wortham Negro Cemetery (now Wortham Black Cemetery). Far from his grave being kept clean, it was unmarked until 1967, when a Texas Historical Marker was erected in the general area of his plot, the precise location being unknown. By 1996, the cemetery and marker were in poor condition, but a new granite headstone was erected in 1997. In 2007 the cemetery's name was changed to Blind Lemon Memorial Cemetery and keeping his wishes his gravesite is being kept clean by a cemetery committee in Wortham Texas.

Covers of Blind Lemon Jefferson

The White Stripes's "De Ballot of De Boll Weevil" is a cover version of "Boll Weevil Blues."

Bob Dylan's "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean" on Bob Dylan.

The Beatles's "Match Box" was a cover version of "Matchbox Blues."

B. B. King's "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean" on One Kind Favor

Counting Crows lead singer Adam Duritz accidentally claimed credit for the song "Mean Jumper Blues" in the liner notes of the re-release of August And Everything After (Deluxe Edition). The cover is featured as part of a selection of early demo tracks recorded by the Counting Crows. Duritz apologized immediately after this error was brought to his attention in his personal blog.[16]

References to Blind Lemon Jefferson

King Solomon Hill recorded the song "My Buddy Blind Papa Lemon" as a tribute to Jefferson in 1932.

Van Morrison refers to Jefferson in the song "Cleaning Windows" on the 1982 album Beautiful Vision.

Francis Cabrel refers to Jefferson in the song "Cent Ans de Plus" on the 1999 album Hors-Saison.

Geoff Muldaur refers to Jefferson with the song "Got To Find Blind Lemon" on the album The Secret Handshake

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds recorded the song "Blind Lemon Jefferson" on the album The Firstborn Is Dead.

The 2007 film Black Snake Moan refers to the title of Jefferson's song "Black Snake Moan"

In the 2003 movie Masked and Anonymous, Bobby Cupid (Luke Wilson) gives his friend Jack Fate (Bob Dylan) Blind Lemon's original guitar, on which he claims Matchbox Blues was first recorded.

Patrick Sky parodied Jefferson as "Blind Funk Earwax" playing "Child Molesting Blues" on his 1973 album Songs That Made America Famous

Cheech and Chong parodied Jefferson as "Blind Melon Chitlin'" on their self-titled 1971 album Cheech and Chong (album), their 1985 album Get Out of My Room, and in a stage routine that can be seen in their 1983 movie Still Smokin'.

A bar called Blind Lemon appears in the Philip K. Dick novel The Game-Players of Titan.

An episode of Sanford and Son titled "The Blind Mellow Jelly Collection" refers to Jefferson's name.

Michael Martin Murphy refers to Jefferson in the song "Rolling Hills' on his 1973 album Cosmic Cowboy Souvenir.

Lead Belly refers to Jefferson in his song "My Friend Blind Lemon."

On VeggieTales, Larry tries to sing the blues with the help of Blind Lemon Lincoln.

Blind Melon may be a reference to his name and/or style.


1 ^Govenar and Brakefield, 62.

2 ^ World War I Draft Registration records; Dallas County, Texas; Roll: 1952850; Draft Board: 2

3 ^ a b c d e Dicaire, 140.

4 ^ Dicaire, 143.

5 ^ Dicaire, 140, 143.

6 ^ Dicaire, 144. ^ Charters.

7 ^ Dicaire, 144.

8 ^ 1900 US Census; Census Place: Justice Precinct 5, Freestone, Texas; Roll: T623 1636; Page: 3A; Enumeration District: 37.

9 ^ 1910 US Census; Census Place: Justice Precinct 6, Navarro, Texas; Roll: T624_1580; Page: 17B; Enumeration District: 98; Image: 982.

10 ^ World War I Draft Registration records; Dallas County, Texas; Roll: 1952850; Draft Board: 2

11 ^ 1920 US Census;Census Place: Kirvin, Freestone, Texas; Roll: T625_1805; Page: 3A; Enumeration District: 24; Image: 231.

12 ^ a b c d Dicaire, 141.

13 ^ "Walter Davis: Fist and Skull Banjo," by Wayne Erbsen, Bluegrass Unlimited: March 1981, 22-26 ^ 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll

14 ^ B.B. King covers "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean" on his 2008 release "One Kind Favor," which is named after a line in the song.


Charters, Samuel. The Blues Makers. New York: Da Capo Press, 1977. ISBN 0-306-80438-7.

Govenar, Alan, and Jay F. Brakefield. Deep Ellum and Central Track: Where the Black and White Worlds of Dallas Converged. Denton, Texas: University of North Texas Press, 1998. ISBN 1-57441-051-2.

Dicaire, David. Blues Singers: Biographies of 50 Legendary Artists of the Early 20th Century. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland and Company, Inc., 1999. ISBN 0-7864-0606-2.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Skip James

Biography by Wikipedia

Nehemiah Curtis "Skip" James (June 21, 1902 – October 3, 1969) was an American Delta blues singer, guitarist, pianist and songwriter.

Early years

James was born near Bentonia, Mississippi. His father was a converted bootlegger turned preacher. As a youth, James heard local musicians such as Henry Stuckey and brothers Charlie and Jesse Sims and began playing the organ in his teens. He worked on road construction and levee-building crews in his native Mississippi in the early 1920s, and wrote what is perhaps his earliest song, "Illinois Blues", about his experiences as a laborer. Later in the '20s he sharecropped and made bootleg whiskey in the Bentonia area. He began playing guitar in open D-minor tuning and developed a three-finger picking technique that he would use to great effect on his recordings. In addition, he began to practice piano-playing, drawing inspiration from the Mississippi blues pianist Little Brother Montgomery.

1920s and '30s

In early 1931, James auditioned for Jackson, Mississippi record shop owner and talent scout H. C. Speir, who placed blues performers with a variety of record labels including Paramount Records. On the strength of this audition, Skip James traveled to Grafton, Wisconsin to record for Paramount. James's 1931 work is considered uniquely idiosyncratic among pre-war blues recordings, and forms the basis of his reputation as a musician.

As is typical of his era, James recorded a variety of material — blues and spirituals, cover versions and original compositions — frequently blurring the lines between genres and sources. For example, "I'm So Glad" was derived from a 1927 song by Art Sizemore and George A. Little entitled "So Tired", which had been recorded in 1928 by both Gene Austin and Lonnie Johnson (the latter under the title "I'm So Tired of Livin' All Alone"). James changed the song's lyrics, transforming it with his virtuoso technique, moaning delivery, and keen sense of tone. Biographer Stephen Calt, echoing the opinion of several critics, considered the finished product totally original, "one of the most extraordinary examples of fingerpicking found in guitar music."
Skip James - Devil Got My Woman From: Coldyron

Several of the Grafton recordings, such as "Hard Time Killing Floor Blues", "Devil Got My Woman", "Jesus Is A Mighty Good Leader", and "22-20 Blues" (the basis for Robert Johnson's better-known "32-20 Blues"), have proven similarly influential. Very few original copies of James's Paramount 78s have survived.

The Great Depression struck just as James' recordings were hitting the market. Sales were poor as a result, and James gave up performing the blues to become the choir director in his father's church. Skip James himself was later ordained as a minister in both the Baptist and Methodist denominations, but his involvement in religious activities was sketchy.

Disappearance, rediscovery, and legacy

For the next thirty years, James recorded nothing and drifted in and out of music. He was virtually unknown to listeners until about 1960. In 1964 blues enthusiasts John Fahey, Bill Barth and Henry Vestine found him in a hospital in Tunica, Mississippi. According to Calt, the "rediscovery" of both Skip James and of Son House at virtually the same moment was the start of the "blues revival" in America. In July 1964 James, along with other rediscovered performers, appeared at the Newport Folk Festival. Several photographs by Dick Waterman captured this first performance in over 30 years. Throughout the remainder of the decade, he recorded for the Takoma, Melodeon, and Vanguard labels and played various engagements until his death in 1969.

Although James was not initially covered as frequently as other rediscovered musicians, British rock band Cream recorded two versions of "I'm So Glad" (a studio version and a live version), providing James the only windfall of his career. Despite the band's well-known musicianship, Cream based their version on James's simplified '60s recording, instead of the faster, more intricate 1931 original.

Since his death, James's music has become more available and prevalent than during his lifetime — his 1931 recordings, along with several rediscovery recordings and concerts, have found their way on to numerous compact discs, drifting in and out of print. His influence is still felt among contemporary bluesmen, as well as more mainstream performers such as Beck, who sings a partially-secularized, Skip-inspired version of "Jesus Is A Mighty Good Leader" on his 1994 "anti-folk" record, One Foot in the Grave. James also left a mark on 21st-century Hollywood, as well, with Chris Thomas King's cover of "Hard Time Killing Floor Blues" in O Brother, Where Art Thou? and the 1931 "Devil Got My Woman" featured prominently in the plot and soundtrack of Ghost World. In recent times, British post-rock band Hope of the States released a song partially focused on the life of Skip James entitled "Nehemiah", which charted at number 30 in the UK charts.

Singer Dion (DiMucci) issued an album in November 2007 entitled Son of Skip James.

Musical style

Skip James' sound was unique to the blues genre and although he influenced other blues musicians, such as Robert Johnson, few have been able to recreate his style. His high pitched voice seems otherworldly and frail, even in his early recordings. He is said to have had a 'preaching' style of singing and was known to also sing spirituals. James is regarded as a gifted and distinctive guitarist. He often used an open D-minor tuning (DADFAD) which gave his instrument a dark and desolate tone. James reportedly learned this tuning from his musical mentor, the unrecorded bluesman Henry Stuckey. Stuckey in turn was said to have acquired it from Bahamanian soldiers during the First World War. The famed Robert Johnson also recorded in this "Bentonia" tuning (see Below), his "Hell Hound On My Trail" being based on the James opus "Devil Got My Woman". James' classically-informed, finger-picking style was fast and clean, using the entire register of the guitar with heavy, hypnotic bass lines. Ironically, James' style of playing had more in common with the Piedmont blues of the East Coast than with the Delta blues of his native Mississippi.

Skip James - Crow Jane From: ledzepp461

Skip James' signature lick in open D-minor involves a fingered slide of the third string from the second to the fourth fret; a slide on the same string from the fourth back to the second fret; striking the fourth string open; then hammering the third string in the first fret. James used this simple but effective lick in many of his songs, especially "Devil Got My Woman."

"Bentonia School"

Skip James has often been called one of the exponents of the Bentonia School of blues playing, which was later carried on by guitarist and singer Jack Owens. Calt, in his 1994 biography of James, I'd Rather Be the Devil: Skip James and the Blues, maintains that there was indeed no style of blues that originated in Bentonia, and that this is simply a notion of later blues writers who overestimated the provinciality of Mississippi during the early 20th century, when railways linked small towns, and who failed to see that in the case of Owens, "the 'tradition' he bore primarily consisted of musical scraps from James' table." Whatever the truth is regarding the origins of James' style, or of the "Bentonia School," he certainly stands as one of the most original of all blues performers.

Biography by Cub Koda (AllMusic Guide)

Among the earliest and most influential Delta bluesmen to record, Skip James was the best known proponent of the so-called Bentonia school of blues players, a genre strain invested with as much fanciful scholarly "research" as any. Coupling an oddball guitar tuning set against eerie, falsetto vocals, James's early recordings could make the hair stand up on the back of your neck. Even more surprising was when blues scholars rediscovered him in the '60s and found his singing and playing skills intact. Influencing everyone from a young Robert Johnson (Skip's "Devil Got My Woman" became the basis of Johnson's "Hellhound on My Trail") to Eric Clapton (who recorded James's "I'm So Glad" on the first Cream album), Skip James's music, while from a commonly shared regional tradition, remains infused with his own unique personal spirit.

Skip James - I'm So Glad From: SFBA4me

Skip James Wikipedia
A biography by Roi Geyari

AllMusic Guide
The Mysteries Of Skip James by Matt R. Lohr

AllMusic Guide

Crossroads Club 27 Downloads
Skip James

Mississippi John Hurt

Biography by Wikipedia

"Mississippi" John Smith Hurt (March 8, 1892,[1] Teoc, Carroll County, Mississippi - November 2, 1966, Grenada, Mississippi) was an influential blues singer and guitarist.[2]

Raised in Avalon, Mississippi, he learned to play guitar at age 9. He spent much of his youth playing old time music for friends and dances, earning a living as a farm hand into the 1920s. In 1923 he often partnered with the fiddle player Willie Narmour (Carroll County Blues) as a substitute for his regular partner Shell Smith. When Narmour got a chance to record for Okeh Records in reward for winning first place in a 1928 fiddle contest, Narmour recommended John Hurt to OKeh Records producer Tommy Rockwell. After auditioning "Monday Morning Blues" at his home, he took part in two recording sessions, in Memphis and New York City (See Discography below). The "Mississippi" tag was added by OKeh as a sales gimmick. After the commercial failure of the resulting disc and OKeh records going out of business during the depression, Hurt returned to Avalon and obscurity working as a sharecropper and playing local parties and dances.

In 1963, however, a folk musicologist named Tom Hoskins, inspired by the recordings, was able to locate[3] John Hurt near Avalon, Mississippi.

Mississippi John Hurt - You Got to Walk That Lonesome Valley From: xyrius

In fact, in an early recording, Hurt sang of "Avalon, my home town." Seeing that Hurt's guitar playing skills were still intact, Hoskins encouraged him to move to Washington, DC, and begin performing on a wider stage. Whereas his first releases had coincided with the Great Depression, his new career could hardly have been better timed. A stellar performance at the 1963 Newport Folk Festival saw his star rise amongst the new "folk revival" audience, and before his death in 1966 he played extensively in colleges, concert halls, coffee houses and even the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, as well as recording three further albums for Vanguard Records. John Hurt's influence spans several music genres including blues, country, bluegrass, folk and contemporary rock and roll. A soft-spoken man, his nature was reflected in the work, which remained a mellow mix of country, blues and old time music to the end.

^ There is confusion about his date of birth, but the grave marker mentions this date.
^ Trail of the Hellhound: Mississippi John Hurt. Retrieved on 2008-05-29.
^ Tom Hoskins was able to find Mississippi John Hurt after listening to the lyrics of Avalon and realizing it was written about a place called Avalon. Unable to find Avalon on a recent map, Hoskins searched older and older maps and eventually found it on an atlas from 1878 between Greenwood and Grenada.
^ a b c d e Spike Driver's Blues is about the Afro-American folk hero John Henry (folklore).

Biography by Bruce Eder (AllMusic)

No blues singer ever presented a more gentle, genial image than Mississippi John Hurt. A guitarist with an extraordinarily lyrical and refined fingerpicking style, he also sang with a warmth unique in the field of blues, and the gospel influence in his music gave it a depth and reflective quality unusual in the field. Coupled with the sheer gratitude and amazement that he felt over having found a mass audience so late in life, and playing concerts in front of thousands of people — for fees that seemed astronomical to a man who had always made music a sideline to his life as a farm laborer — these qualities make Hurt's recordings into a very special listening experience.

John Hurt grew up in the Mississippi hill country town of Avalon, population under 100, north of Greenwood, near Grenada. He began playing guitar in 1903, and within a few years was performing at parties, doing ragtime repertory rather than blues. As a farm hand, he lived in relative isolation, and it was only in 1916, when he went to work briefly for the railroad, that he got to broaden his horizons and his repertory beyond Avalon. In the early '20s, he teamed up with white fiddle player Willie Narmour, playing square dances.

Hurt was spotted by a scout for Okeh Records who passed through Avalon in 1927, who was supposed to record Narmour, and was signed to record after a quick audition. Of the eight sides that Hurt recorded in Memphis in February of 1928, only two were ever released, but he was still asked to record in New York late in 1928.

Hurt's dexterity as a guitarist, coupled with his plain-spoken nature, were his apparent undoing, at least as a popular blues artist, at the time. His playing was too soft and articulate, and his voice too plain to be taken up in a mass setting, such as a dance; rather, his music was best heard in small, intimate gatherings. In that sense, he was one of the earliest blues musicians to rely completely on the medium of recorded music as a vehicle for mass success; where the records of Furry Lewis or Blind Blake were mere distillations of music that they (presumably) did much better on-stage, in John Hurt's case the records were good representations of what he did best. Additionally, Hurt never regarded himself as a blues singer, preferring to let his relatively weak voice speak for itself with none of the gimmicks that he might've used, especially in the studio, to compensate. And he had no real signature tune with which he could be identified, in the way that Furry Lewis had "Kassie Jones" or "John Henry."

Not that Hurt didn't have some great numbers in his song bag: "Frankie," "Louis Collins," "Avalon Blues," "Candy Man Blues," "Big Leg Blues," and "Stack O' Lee Blues," were all brilliant and unusual as blues, in their own way, and highly influential on subsequent generations of musicians. They didn't sell in large numbers at the time, however, and as Hurt never set much store on a musical career, he was content to make his living as a hired hand in Avalon, living on a farm and playing for friends whenever the occasion arose.

Mississippi John Hurt might've lived and died in obscurity, if it hadn't been for the folk music revival of the late '50s and early '60s. A new generation of listeners and scholars suddenly expressed a deep interest in the music of America's hinterlands, not only in listening to it but finding and preserving it. A scholar named Tom Hoskins discovered that Mississippi John Hurt, who hadn't been heard from musically in over 35 years, was alive and living in Avalon, MS, and sought him out, following the trail laid down in Hurt's song "Avalon Blues." Their meeting was a fateful one; Hurt was in his 70s, and weary from a lifetime of backbreaking labor for pitifully small amounts of money, but his musical ability was intact, and he bore no ill-will against anyone who wanted to hear his music.

A series of concerts were arranged, including an appearance at the Newport Folk Festival, where he was greeted as a living legend. This opened up a new world to Hurt, who was grateful to find thousands, or even tens of thousands of people too young to have even been born when he made his only records up to that time, eager to listen to anything he had to sing or say. A tour of American universities followed as did a series of recordings: first in a relatively informal, non-commercial setting intended to capture him in his most comfortable and natural surroundings, and later under the auspices of Vanguard Records, with folk singer Patrick Sky producing.

It was 1965, and Mississippi John Hurt had found a mass audience for his songs 35 years late. He took the opportunity, playing concerts and making new records of old songs as well as material he'd never before laid down; whether he eventually put down more than a portion of his true repertory will probably never be clear, but Hurt did leave a major legacy of his and other peoples' songs, in a style that barely skipped a beat from his late-'20s Okeh sides.

As with many people to whom success comes late in life, certain aspects of the success were hard for him to absorb in stride; the money was more than he'd ever hoped to see, even if it wasn't much by the standards of a major pop star; 1,000 dollar concert fees were something he'd never even pondered having to deal with. What he did most easily was sing and play; Vanguard got out a new album, Today!, in 1966, from his first sessions for the label. Additionally, the tape of a concert that Hurt played at Oberlin College in April of 1965 was released under the title The Best of Mississippi John Hurt; the 21-song live album was just that, even if it wasn't made up of previously released work (more typical of a "best-of" album), a perfect record of a beautiful performance in which the man did old and new songs in the peak of his form. Hurt got in one more full album, The Immortal Mississippi John Hurt, released posthumously, but even better was the record assembled from his final sessions, Last Sessions, also issued after his death; these songs broke new lyrical ground, and showed Hurt's voice and guitar to be as strong as ever, just months before his death.

Mississippi John Hurt - Goodnight Irene From: peglegsam

Mississippi John Hurt left behind a legacy unique in the annals of the blues, and not just in terms of music. A humble, hard-working man who never sought fame or fortune from his music, and who conducted his life in an honest and honorable manner, he also avoided the troubles that afflicted the lives of many of his more tragic fellow musicians. He was a pure musician, playing for himself and the smallest possible number of listeners, developing his guitar technique and singing style to please nobody but himself; and he suddenly found himself with a huge following, precisely because of his unique style. Unlike contemporaries such as Skip James, he felt no bitterness over his late-in-life mass success, and as a result continued to please and win over new listeners with his recordings until virtually the last weeks of his life. Nothing he ever recorded was less than inspired, and most of it was superb.

Mississippi John Hurt - Candy Man Blues From: peglegsam

The Mississippi John Hurt Museum

Internet Archives

AllMusic Guide


Music Guide

Crossroads Club 27 Downloads

Mississippi John Hurt