Here's a coincidence. Neil Slaven asked me to scan a Leroy Carr obituary for a booklet he's writing (forthcoming JSP box) and I note that thanks to the Weenie dates this month is an anniversary of Carr's death. I don't think I've posted this before, it's from Jazz Journal, August 1960 (p. 13). From memory there's something awry in the list of next of kin but I'm sure that MTJ3 will remind us what it is:
Theodore F. Watts
The Death of Leroy Carr
Now, no one could really blame Sam Charters for not following the trail of the country blues to Indianapolis, Indiana. (The Country Blues by Sam Charters, published in Britain by Michael Joseph. 1959). But his chapter on Leroy Carr would have been more complete and accurate if he had made the trip up from Nashville.
As Scrapper Blackwell describes it, Leroy's death occurred after a large party at Leroy's home on Northwestern Avenue. Scrapper had left around 2 a.m. for home. His sister Mae woke him to tell him that Leroy was dead.
Leroy was a prodigious drinker of whiskey. (By this time— 1935—Scrapper says he had stopped drinking whiskey himself because it caused him to get into too much trouble; he changed to beer).
The effect of Leroy's death on Scrapper was traumatic. The recording efforts Scrapper made after that were half-hearted and his own interest in playing waned. n fact Scrapper still talks about the lyrics to 44 blues, probably the results of Leroy's composing, that he destroyed in a period of drunken depression after Leroy's death.
The following account from the Negro weekly the Indianapolis Recorder is an honest contemporary tribute to the man. [It appeared in the May 4, 1935 issue of the paper]. It also makes impossible the October 1935 recording date in Florida attributed to Leroy that has worried Mr. Charters.
(From the Recorder).
The sun rises in the East And sets in the West
I can't tell which one is for the best.
Goodbye, My sweetheart, I 'm going away
But I'll be back for you some sweet day . . .
When the sun goes down.
But fate has decreed that the promise in this popular blues song shall never be fulfilled
Leroy Carr, its author and writer of many other popular blues tunes has followed Monday's setting sun out into that mysterious vale that eternally shrouds the secrets of death.
Thousands of persons thronged the Patton Funeral Home Thursday afternoon for one last look at the man whose bizarre combination of bluish notes struck a deep sympathetic response in the souls of thousands of colored people throughout the country.
Carr was found dead in bed at his home, 2408 Northwestern avenue Monday morning. [This was Monday 29 April 1935. -TFW.] According to the report issued by Deputy Coroner Dr. A. J. King, death was due to nephritis.
Born in Nashville, Tenn., thirty years ago, Carr came here in 1912 attending the local public schools. For some years thereafter he maintained himself playing for house parties much m vogue at that time. His impromptu blues numbers were enthusiastically received by his audiences and in 1926 he was persuaded by a white promoter to attempt his first record.
Recorded in Indianapolis, How long was an instant hit with others in rapid succession.
In all, the versatile writer, with his companion, "Scrap" Blackwell, guitar player, have produced more than 80 records.
Their fame spread and Carr and his partner were soon the toast of blues lovers in the principal cities of the North, East, South, and Middle West.
Money rolled in and, in true Bohemian fashion, Carr proceeded to enjoy his earnings. With the coming of the depression and the radio things changed. The sale of blues records slackened and Carr returned to his home here.
His last recording, When the sun goes down, was recently released and has already attained a fair degree of popularity among the blues lovers.
He is survived by a father, John Carr, Nashville, Tenn.: a wife, Mrs. Margret Carr, city; a sister, Miss Marrice Delores Carr, city; and a daughter, Miss Eva Mae Carr.