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Author Topic: Unnatural Causes - murdered blues musicians  (Read 7204 times)

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Offline uncle bud

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Unnatural Causes - murdered blues musicians
« on: May 30, 2007, 08:03:58 AM »
While poking through the Penguin Guide to Blues Recordings recently and reading the section on Jazz Gillum, I was reminded that Gillum met his end by being fatally shot in an argument. This was later in life, in 1966. I was then trying to think of other blues musicians who'd been murdered, since it's so often characterized as a dangerous profession. I'm sure it was indeed dangerous, but still wonder how many blues guys and gals actually got done in violently like this.

I couldn't actually come up with that many. Scrapper Blackwell died much the same way as Gillum, shot in a fight in the 1960s. And of course there's Robert Johnson, whose legend is perhaps responsible for the murdered bluesman archetype, like it is for a number of other blues mythologies. Searching the forum, I see that Maylon Harney (Hacksaw's brother) was murdered at a young age. And Paul Geremia tells a story of Hambone Willie Newbern being beaten to death by guards in prison - I don't recall seeing that documented elsewhere so don't know the exact facts.

Any others?

LoneWolf

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Re: Unnatural Causes - murdered blues musicians
« Reply #1 on: May 30, 2007, 09:27:57 AM »
John Lee Williamson was murdered, I think.

Offline Prof Scratchy

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Re: Unnatural Causes - murdered blues musicians
« Reply #2 on: May 30, 2007, 09:29:46 AM »
Pinetop Smith...

Offline tenderfoot84

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Re: Unnatural Causes - murdered blues musicians
« Reply #3 on: May 30, 2007, 09:34:50 AM »
didn't charley lincoln die in a prison brawl in the 30's?
Cheerybye,
David C

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Unnatural Causes - murdered blues musicians
« Reply #4 on: May 30, 2007, 09:54:47 AM »
didn't charley lincoln die in a prison brawl in the 30's?
'Fraid not but as a result of a brain hemorrhage, September 1963.

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Unnatural Causes - murdered blues musicians
« Reply #5 on: May 30, 2007, 09:58:37 AM »
And Paul Geremia tells a story of Hambone Willie Newbern being beaten to death by guards in prison - I don't recall seeing that documented elsewhere so don't know the exact facts.
Wow UB haven't heard that one for decades. I'll have to apply the "little grey cells" to the task but think it was something recounted in interview by somebody like Estes, or Big Joe or, or, or.... :)

Offline Rivers

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Re: Unnatural Causes - murdered blues musicians
« Reply #6 on: May 30, 2007, 04:28:43 PM »
Good topic Bud. Delving into the details of each case might be very interesting.

Sonny Boy Williamson #1 was indeed dreadfully done-in on his way home from the Plantation Club, St Louis, June 1 1948, 59th anniversary is tomorrow I notice. 17 holes in the head from an icepick. Apparently a robbery, wallet, harps and watch were all stolen. Blind John Davis told another story, that it was the lesbian lover of a gal he'd been to visit who'd returned home unexpectedly and attacked Sonny Boy when he rang the bell. Info is from the Bluebird liner notes.

Son Bonds. Shot to death on his front porch in Dyersburg TN, 1947, mistaken identity.

Scrapper Blackwell. Shot to death in an alley during a mugging in Indianapolis, October 7, 1962

Online banjochris

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Re: Unnatural Causes - murdered blues musicians
« Reply #7 on: May 30, 2007, 05:37:31 PM »
Fiddler/guitarist Prince Albert Hunt was shot to death by a jealous husband (boyfriend?) in 1929 or so. I've seen reproductions of the newspaper article.

Didn't Little Walter die in a fight or somesuch?

I also seem to remember some comment about Hambone Willie Newbern's death either in "Chasing the Devil Music" or the Charlie Patton biography -- I remember the quote that he "wouldn't work for nobody."
Chris

Online Johnm

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Re: Unnatural Causes - murdered blues musicians
« Reply #8 on: May 30, 2007, 06:15:52 PM »
Hi all,
Roy Lee Centers, a superlative lead singer and rhythm guitarist with Ralph Stanley's Clinch Mountain Boys in the 1970s was murdered by a jealous husband/boyfriend.
All best,
Johnm

Online banjochris

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Re: Unnatural Causes - murdered blues musicians
« Reply #9 on: May 30, 2007, 09:39:08 PM »
Atlanta harmonica player Eddie Mapp was murdered in November 1931 -- an artery severed and left to bleed to death in the street. Piano Red said he was stabbed by a jealous boyfriend on page 114 of Bruce Bastin's "Red River Blues."

Also, an interesting and probably much longer thread would be blues musicians who killed somebody -- I'll start the list with:

Son House (not sure if he killed the guy or just shot him)
Booker White
Robert Pete Williams
Skip James (at least he said he did)
Jimmie Strothers
Buddy Moss
Pat Hare (who played with Muddy Waters, IIRC)
and, on the country side, Spade Cooley.

I'm sure there's plenty more...
Chris

Offline GhostRider

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Re: Unnatural Causes - murdered blues musicians
« Reply #10 on: May 31, 2007, 09:09:59 AM »
Also, an interesting and probably much longer thread would be blues musicians who killed somebody -- I'll start the list with:

Add Funny Papa Smith.

Alex

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Unnatural Causes - murdered blues musicians
« Reply #11 on: May 31, 2007, 09:55:28 AM »
Also, an interesting and probably much longer thread would be blues musicians who killed somebody -- I'll start the list with:
[cut]
Pat Hare (who played with Muddy Waters, IIRC)
Who on 14th May 1954 recorded the prophetic "I'm Gonna Murder My Baby" for Sun Records. A decade later (1964)he did away with his girlfriend! The song remained unreleased until the 70s when it was found to be Dr Clayton's Cheating & Lying Blues....

Online banjochris

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Re: Unnatural Causes - murdered blues musicians
« Reply #12 on: May 31, 2007, 10:26:55 AM »
Oh, and Leadbelly (on the killers list, not the killees, obviously).
Chris

Offline jostber

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Re: Unnatural Causes - murdered blues musicians
« Reply #13 on: June 01, 2007, 02:47:30 AM »
Also, an interesting and probably much longer thread would be blues musicians who killed somebody -- I'll start the list with:
[cut]
Pat Hare (who played with Muddy Waters, IIRC)
Who on 14th May 1954 recorded the prophetic "I'm Gonna Murder My Baby" for Sun Records. A decade later (1964)he did away with his girlfriend! The song remained unreleased until the 70s when it was found to be Dr Clayton's Cheating & Lying Blues....

The Pat Hare Story:

http://www.rockabillyeurope.com/references/messages/pat_hare.htm

Offline LusciousLucy

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Re: Unnatural Causes - murdered blues musicians
« Reply #14 on: June 01, 2007, 04:25:14 AM »
Regarding bluesmen who killed sb: R.L. Burnside

cit. from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2005/09/03/db0302.xml
"
After Burnside returned to Mississippi, he shot a man who, he claimed, had been attempting to run him out of his home. Although he was convicted of murder, the story goes that he had served only three months in jail when a plantation owner persuaded a judge to release him, saying he needed Burnside to work during the cotton-planting season.

"I didn't mean to kill nobody," Burnside later said of the murder. "I just meant to shoot the sonofabitch in the head. Him dying was between him and the Lord."
"
...
hm :-\ 

Cheers Luzi
« Last Edit: June 01, 2007, 04:44:48 AM by LusciousLucy »

 


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