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I'm a stranger here, just come in on this train. I'm a stranger here, come in on this train. I want some responsible young man, tell me that woman's name - J. T. Adams with Shirley Griffith, "Blind Lemon's Blues"

Author Topic: Woman in Blind Willie Johnson's recordings  (Read 1715 times)

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LoneWolf

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Woman in Blind Willie Johnson's recordings
« on: January 31, 2007, 07:15:40 AM »
I think that people thought it was his second wife, Angeline, for a long time, but it's actually not true. It's his first wife Willie B. Harris... When did people discover their mistake? Was it Sam Charters who made the mistake?

Offline Richard

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Re: Woman in Blind Willie Johnson's recordings
« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2007, 09:56:23 AM »

G&D credit the vocals to Willie B Johson (later Harris) and also mention the Angeline connection, now that was first published in 1964 so, out of interest where else you get that info about Angeline ???
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Woman in Blind Willie Johnson's recordings
« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2007, 10:00:44 AM »
The Folkways LP and booklet were released in 1957 and it wasn't until about 30 years later when a guy was researching Texas gospel music (Dan Williams I think his name was) interviewed a woman named Willie B. Harris in Marlin who claimed she was married to Johnson in 1926. On closer questioning it became apparent that she was the voice on the recordings. This is all from memory of a blues mag news item and if only I could find where I've misfiled the 1993 double Columbia CD the sequence of events is given there by Sam Charters. Ironically Charters in his Walking A Blues Road compendium (2004) reprints part of the Folkways booklet but prefaces it with a note to the effect that one Randy Harper tracked down BWJ's family and friends and found the death certificate which stated BWJ died in Beaumont, Texas September 18th, 1945 the cause of death being malaria, with compilcations from syphilis. All this info came to light shortly after the release of the CD!

Offline Richard

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Re: Woman in Blind Willie Johnson's recordings
« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2007, 01:34:28 PM »
Seek and ye shall find etc

I see even a sooper religous man like that didn't escape getting syphilis somehow  ;D
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline banjochris

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Re: Woman in Blind Willie Johnson's recordings
« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2007, 07:47:54 PM »
His syphilis may well have been congenital (passed from mom) -- this was a common cause of blindness for offspring in the days before the disease was treatable (I know there's the story of him getting lye thrown in his face, though). Willie Walker died of congenital syphilis and was likely blinded by it and I believe Blind Boy Fuller's blindness was also caused by congenital VD (according to the report quoted in Bruce Bastin's "Red River Blues").
Chris

Offline Parlor Picker

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Re: Woman in Blind Willie Johnson's recordings
« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2007, 12:48:30 AM »
Whatever next? - Bunker Hill "misfiled" something.  How will we cope?  He is our walking, talking encyclopedia of the blues.

Don't worry, Alan, you can't get syphillis from it....
"I ain't good looking, teeth don't shine like pearls,
So glad good looks don't take you through this world."
Barbecue Bob

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Woman in Blind Willie Johnson's recordings
« Reply #6 on: February 01, 2007, 09:50:06 AM »
Whatever next? - Bunker Hill "misfiled" something.  How will we cope?  He is our walking, talking encyclopedia of the blues.

Don't worry, Alan, you can't get syphillis from it....
Michael, after a cruel day at the coal face, that comment raised a belly laugh that took the roof off. Nice one, thanks.

However, my knowledge is anything but encyclopedic. I know what I know and I know what I like, outside of that there are voids of gigantic proportion...

 


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