Monday, September 5, 2011

Remembering David "Honeyboy" Edwards, Delta Blues Master

In a year in which we’ve lost Pinetop Perkins and Eddie Kirkland, another founding father of the blues recently passed away, David "Honeyboy" Edwards, 96. This outstanding guitarist and singer played with many other blues greats, including Robert Johnson. The film clip above is from the blues documentary “Lightning in a Bottle” (2004), shot at Radio City Music. Edwards is shown playing "Gamblin' Man" and talking about his start as a musician. The first 33 minutes of the documentary "Honeyboy and the History of the Blues" (2010) can be viewed here. From the NY Times obituary:

David Honeyboy Edwards, believed to have been the oldest surviving member of the first generation of Delta blues singers, died on Monday at his home in Chicago. He was 96.

...Mr. Edwards’s career spanned nearly the entire recorded history of the blues, from its early years in the Mississippi Delta to its migration to the nightclubs of Chicago and its emergence as an international phenomenon.

Over eight decades Mr. Edwards knew or played with virtually every major figure who worked in the idiom, including Charley Patton, Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf. He was probably best known, though, as the last living link to Robert Johnson, widely hailed as the King of the Delta Blues. The two traveled together, performing on street corners and at picnics, dances and fish fries during the 1930s.

...Field recordings he made for the Library of Congress under the supervision of the folklorist Alan Lomax in 1942 are the only documents of Mr. Edwards’s music from his years in the Delta.

Citing the interplay between his coarse, keening vocals and his syncopated “talking” guitar on recordings like “Wind Howling Blues,” many historians regard these performances as classic examples of the deep, down-home blues that shaped rhythm and blues and rock ’n’ roll.

Mr. Edwards was especially renowned for his intricate fingerpicking and his slashing bottleneck-slide guitar work.


askcherlock said...

Truly a loss, but what a legend in the world of Blues. He was such an inspiration.

Jeff Tone said...

Yes, we're gradually losing blues' founding fathers, but their great musics and influence remains.