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Author Topic: Buddy Moss - prison photo & bio  (Read 6868 times)

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Offline outfidel

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Buddy Moss - prison photo & bio
« on: January 03, 2008, 11:58:39 AM »
The photo below was posted on shorpy.com with this caption: ""May 1941. Music-making in the convict camp at Greene County, Georgia."

When I posted this over on The Woodshed, Stefan Grossman identified the guitar player as Buddy Moss. Here's blurb from a bio of Moss:

Quote
This first recording session consisted of eleven tunes, and by mid-September 1933 he was recording another twelve songs. This time, however, Curley Weaver and Blind Willie McTell were accompanying him. The summer of 1934 saw Moss outselling everyone in the industry and continued to do that when he teamed up with Josh White in 1935. Moss was arrested that year however for either murdering his wife or fighting to the death with one of his rivals, depending on which source you read. He was released from the Georgia prison system six years later due to good behavior and a good word from James Baxter Long, Blind Boy Fuller's "manager." This may have been due to the fact that Blind Boy Fuller was dying and Long needed another star.

So it seems the photo was taken near the end of his prison term. I wonder if the photographer knew (or cared) that it was Buddy Moss?



« Last Edit: January 03, 2008, 12:01:50 PM by outfidel »
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Cooljack

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Re: Buddy Moss - prison photo & bio
« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2008, 04:27:36 PM »
This is a serious De-Ja-Vu for me as I was listening to the Georgia Cotton Pickers recordings earlier, ran over the name buddy moss and thought it was some obscure harmonica player who recorded a couple of sides. I was pleasantly surprised to find this picture though earlier today and discover document have three volumes of his work. Thats a brilliant picture, I love all the little details in it, such as the guard peering through the grate in the background and the hat on the wall and the questions raised. Im a big fan of black and white photography
« Last Edit: January 03, 2008, 04:33:43 PM by Cooljack »

Offline Rivers

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Re: Buddy Moss - prison photo & bio
« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2008, 09:55:51 PM »
Fabulous shot that Michael. I had seen something similar before but not in such majesty. Yazoo put a frame that must have been taken within seconds of that one on the cover of now out-of-print comp #1013 East Coast Blues. The dancer has his right arm in the air on the Yazoo. Your shot is a better one, the guy looks like he's playing air guitar and probably was.

I had no idea that was Mr Moss on guitar, and the liner notes don't mention it. I guess at the time Yazoo didn't know it either since there are no BM tracks on the album. Thanks for posting.

PS credit for the cover photo on the Yazoo is 'Courtesy Jack Delano'. I have no idea who that is, perhaps one of our readers can chip in here. The frame used on the Yazoo comp can be seen on Stefan Wirz's Yazoo page, http://www.wirz.de/music/yazoofrm.htm, search for '1013'
« Last Edit: January 03, 2008, 10:14:44 PM by Rivers »

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Buddy Moss - prison photo & bio
« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2008, 10:34:12 PM »
 Really spectacular photo. Thanks.
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Offline Stefan Wirz

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Re: Buddy Moss - prison photo & bio
« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2008, 01:01:34 AM »
there are TWO other photos I know of from that 1936 'session'; can be found on my BM page at http://www.wirz.de/music/moss.htm (go to bottom of page).
Stefan

Offline dj

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Re: Buddy Moss - prison photo & bio
« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2008, 04:57:22 AM »
Isn't there another one taken with the photographer standing in front of the stove, looking at Buddy sitting on the bunk?  It might be in Larry Cohn's Story of the Blues, but I don't have the book nearby to check.

Cooljack

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Re: Buddy Moss - prison photo & bio
« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2008, 06:20:50 AM »
theres a somewhat comprehensive wikipedia article on the photographer who was a musician himself:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Delano

and found another picture:

http://guitarvideos.com/assets/archivaldownload/prisondancer.jpg
« Last Edit: January 04, 2008, 06:37:33 AM by Cooljack »

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Buddy Moss - prison photo & bio
« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2008, 07:39:53 AM »
Thanks for the tip on the Jack Delano bio. A very interesting life it seems, and judging by the Buddy Moss photos and the one on the wikipedia page, a superb photographer. Makes you wonder what other hidden treasures there are in the WPA archives. I have a sneaking suspicion, based on no evidence whatsoever, that some early home movie buff, or their decedents, around Atlanta must be sitting on a reel of Blind Willie McTell playing out on the street. I actually contacted the Atlanta Historical society to see if they had a film archive. They don't but made some suggestions as to where to look. I haven't had the time to follow up. Any Atlantans out there?
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

Offline outfidel

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Re: Buddy Moss - prison photo & bio
« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2008, 08:40:00 AM »
Makes you wonder what other hidden treasures there are in the WPA archives.

In case you haven't seen it, check out the Library of Congress's online American Memory collection

I did a search on "guitar prison" and found this in the collection - I think it's the pic that dj had in mind:

« Last Edit: January 04, 2008, 08:41:56 AM by outfidel »
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Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Buddy Moss - prison photo & bio
« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2008, 11:19:47 AM »
Isn't there another one taken with the photographer standing in front of the stove, looking at Buddy sitting on the bunk?  It might be in Larry Cohn's Story of the Blues, but I don't have the book nearby to check.
DJ, you are getting your book titles confused! ;D

Nothing But The Blues facing page 265 where John Cowley's chapter Non-commercial Blues: The field trips, 1924-60 commences. Yet a slightly different pose to those shown here and on 1968 Yazoo LP sleeve. 

Offline dj

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Re: Buddy Moss - prison photo & bio
« Reply #10 on: January 04, 2008, 11:48:37 AM »
Quote
DJ, you are getting your book titles confused!

Oops!   :o

According to the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs online catalog, these pictures were taken at a "convict camp" in Greene County, Georgia, in May or June of 1941.  There are 29 photographs taken by Delano at this time and place in the collection.  The summary description is: 

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Photographs show Negro prisoners in the jail, sitting on their cots and eating. Working on the roadway in Oglethorpe County, with a guard. Prisoner tap-dancing to the music of a guitar. Group of convicts attending burial service of their warden, who had been killed in an automobile accident. Prisoners' hands through cell block lattice work.


Unfortunately, none of the photographs in this group are available online.

Online harry

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Re: Buddy Moss - prison photo & bio
« Reply #11 on: March 26, 2011, 02:49:25 AM »
I came across this photo which has such astonishing quality I thought I'd post it.

[attachment deleted by admin]

Offline LB

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Re: Buddy Moss - prison photo & bio
« Reply #12 on: March 26, 2011, 05:33:51 AM »
Yep Green County Ga early 1940s (41?), there are actually two of these photos taken moments apart. One of my faves too. I think it's called Prison Dancer.

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Buddy Moss - prison photo & bio
« Reply #13 on: March 26, 2011, 06:13:42 AM »
Go to http://www.wirz.de/music/mossfrm.htm and scroll to bottom.

The other first used in 1968 on Yazoo LP cover.

Click on the tag below and you will find a list of Moss discussions one of which concerns these photos.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2011, 06:15:26 AM by Bunker Hill »

Online harry

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Re: Buddy Moss - prison photo & bio
« Reply #14 on: March 26, 2011, 07:06:02 AM »
Thanks Bunker Hill. Now noticed outfidel already posted the photo 3 years ago. Well than for the ones who missed it first time around can look at this piece of history.

Offline Stumblin

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Re: Buddy Moss - prison photo & bio
« Reply #15 on: March 26, 2011, 03:17:52 PM »
Thanks Bunker Hill. Now noticed outfidel already posted the photo 3 years ago. Well than for the ones who missed it first time around can look at this piece of history.
I guess I'm in that category.
Thanks, BH. The minor details in that photo also command close scrutiny. A wonderful document.

Offline LD50

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Re: Buddy Moss - prison photo & bio
« Reply #16 on: March 27, 2011, 11:39:06 AM »
Go to http://www.wirz.de/music/mossfrm.htm and scroll to bottom.

The other first used in 1968 on Yazoo LP cover.

Click on the tag below and you will find a list of Moss discussions one of which concerns these photos.

Which tag?

The goofy thing is that the Yazoo LP that had that picture on the cover didn't even have any Buddy Moss tracks on it.

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Buddy Moss - prison photo & bio
« Reply #17 on: March 27, 2011, 11:46:14 AM »
Quote
Which tag?
At the bottom here where it says Tags and the name Buddy Moss (just above the words Page [1] Go Up). Or are we speaking at cross purposes?

Offline LD50

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Re: Buddy Moss - prison photo & bio
« Reply #18 on: March 27, 2011, 12:09:06 PM »
Quote
Which tag?
At the bottom here where it says Tags and the name Buddy Moss (just above the words Page [1] Go Up). Or are we speaking at cross purposes?

Oh okay, I thought you meant at the bottom of Stefan's Buddy Moss page. Thanks!

How did people first figure out that that was a picture of Moss, I wonder?

Offline oddenda

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Re: Buddy Moss - prison photo & bio
« Reply #19 on: March 27, 2011, 07:03:17 PM »
A.) I looked at it a long time. Said, "Yup, that's him!"
B.) Showed the Yazoo LP jacket to folks around Atlanta who knew Buddy - got an 80%+ "yes" to that.
C.) Jack Delano, the photographer, was shooting at that very prison where Buddy was for killing his girl friend (she might have been cheating on him). An LofC photo.
D.) I did NOT show it to Buddy, for obvious reasons! (see C.)

Buddy was his own worst enemy - I tried for a number of years to record him, but to no avail. Some of the story is in my "Oddenda & Such" columns in BLUES & RHYTHM (UK) of fairly recent memory! He was THAT good, though, that I kept trying until I stopped going South.

Peter B.

Offline LB

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Re: Buddy Moss - prison photo & bio
« Reply #20 on: March 28, 2011, 05:05:12 AM »
Quote
Which tag?
At the bottom here where it says Tags and the name Buddy Moss (just above the words Page [1] Go Up). Or are we speaking at cross purposes?

Oh okay, I thought you meant at the bottom of Stefan's Buddy Moss page. Thanks!

How did people first figure out that that was a picture of Moss, I wonder?


The only one anybody ever needed to ask was Cora Mae. She grew up around Moss, Weaver, McTell and knew everything. I can say one thing. There are more than a couple of sides to all these stories and honestly after hearing their side for years I see some true reasoning why Moss was so mean. He wasn't mean to everyone but he had zero tolerance for BS and Cora always seemed to cut down to the truth no matter how that truth rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. I'd love to see all of her family photos returned to her children and grands. Some of the only photos they had were given to blues book authors and never given back. I've personally witnessed interviews, photos, audio recordings being made and released without their authorization, put on box sets, websites. Peter, I can totally understand why so many of these blues artists and families were their own worst enemies. Being nice sure hadn't worked... 

« Last Edit: March 28, 2011, 05:07:18 AM by LittleBrother »

Offline oddenda

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Re: Buddy Moss - prison photo & bio
« Reply #21 on: March 28, 2011, 05:54:52 PM »
Brother -

You weren't there ... I was. Buddy was the same with most everyone, Black or White. He was one suspicious, nasty dude. Hell, he killed his girlfriend on a "maybe"! I'm sure that Cora Mae was one of the ones I showed the LP jacket to - I do know I showed it to Roy Dunn, and Frank Edwards, a.o. No excuses allowed.

Peter B.

Offline LD50

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Re: Buddy Moss - prison photo & bio
« Reply #22 on: March 29, 2011, 09:36:28 AM »
Did the folks at Yazoo know that was Moss?

Offline LB

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Re: Buddy Moss - prison photo & bio
« Reply #23 on: March 29, 2011, 11:59:41 AM »
Brother -

You weren't there ... I was. Buddy was the same with most everyone, Black or White. He was one suspicious, nasty dude. Hell, he killed his girlfriend on a "maybe"! I'm sure that Cora Mae was one of the ones I showed the LP jacket to - I do know I showed it to Roy Dunn, and Frank Edwards, a.o. No excuses allowed.

Peter B.

No offense meant in my post. I've spent way more time here in this area playing, listening to all these people and their families. I'm not just coming from left field, that's for sure. And I know Moss was really a hard cookie by the time you came around. I also know who you are and even what you looked like, things you did when you dealt with Cora. In fact I'd love to hear your side on a couple of important points.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2011, 12:11:38 PM by LittleBrother »

Offline LD50

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Re: Buddy Moss - prison photo & bio
« Reply #24 on: March 29, 2011, 12:53:23 PM »
May I ask why Buddy Moss killed his girlfriend, or would people here rather not talk about that?

Offline Johnm

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Re: Buddy Moss - prison photo & bio
« Reply #25 on: March 29, 2011, 12:56:30 PM »
You can ask, but do you actually imagine anyone here knows the answer?  Good guess--he was pissed off.

Offline jopoke

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Re: Buddy Moss - prison photo & bio
« Reply #26 on: March 29, 2011, 01:02:58 PM »
That would be a good question for any married couple....:)

Joe

Offline LD50

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Re: Buddy Moss - prison photo & bio
« Reply #27 on: March 29, 2011, 02:45:32 PM »
You can ask, but do you actually imagine anyone here knows the answer?  Good guess--he was pissed off.

I assume so, but I figgered there was a not-too-bad chance either he or Cora Mae had told the story to someone (e.g., Pete) before they died.

This is the first place where I've heard why Moss landed in prison at all. IIRC, Bastin didn't give the reason in Red River Blues.

Offline LB

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Re: Buddy Moss - prison photo & bio
« Reply #28 on: March 30, 2011, 10:38:42 AM »
Just wanted to straighten out a couple comments I made. I didn't mean to cast doubts about any particular blues authors based on one-sided accounts I've heard. I thankful people did profoundly good work documenting the blues. The topics sometimes lead me away from the most important thing which was the music. I'm thankful for anything I can learn about blues but at times it's easy to get caught up in quicksand before you catch yourself, thanks for the opportunity to discuss and learn. 

Offline oddenda

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Re: Buddy Moss - prison photo & bio
« Reply #29 on: March 30, 2011, 05:48:55 PM »
1.) I do not think that Yazoo had any idea that the photo was Moss... he's not on that LP, by the way.

2.) Roger Brown has seen the arrest records and Moss killed his girl friend thinking she was cheating on him... on a "maybe".

3.) Bastin was circumspect after our experience earlier with Buddy and his pistol.

4.) Brother - ask away, either here or pm.

Peter B.

Offline LD50

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Re: Buddy Moss - prison photo & bio
« Reply #30 on: March 30, 2011, 08:55:24 PM »
I do not think that Yazoo had any idea that the photo was Moss... he's not on that LP, by the way.

I know, the only person on that LP who's even from Georgia is Blind Blake. Fabulous LP anyway.

Quote
Bastin was circumspect after our experience earlier with Buddy and his pistol.

Um... dare I ask what *that* was about?

Offline oddenda

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Re: Buddy Moss - prison photo & bio
« Reply #31 on: March 30, 2011, 09:41:24 PM »
LD -

          If I could, I'd attach an "Oddenda & Such" piece of mine with the story, but if you'll send me an e-mail address, I can send it to you.

Peter B.

p.s. - I do believe that Blake was from Florida!
p.p.s. - many of my Black informants in Atlanta area knew all about Buddy's troubled past and gave him wide berth.

Offline LD50

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Re: Buddy Moss - prison photo & bio
« Reply #32 on: March 30, 2011, 10:58:29 PM »
I was basing Blake being from Georgia on this: http://www.bluesworld.com/Blake.html.

Offline oddenda

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Re: Buddy Moss - prison photo & bio
« Reply #33 on: March 31, 2011, 12:29:47 AM »
Blake did travel through Georgia... I was told that by an old couple in Statesboro that he played at a local (Black) barbershop. According to other stuff, he was born in Florida (THE PARAMOUNT BOOK OF THE BLUES). Gayle has had indications, too, and he's living in FL now.

pbl

Offline Rivers

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Re: Buddy Moss - prison photo & bio
« Reply #34 on: April 05, 2011, 06:48:43 PM »
Michael Grey does a good job recounting, as a forth party interviewer, the Bastin / Lowry / Moss contretemps in his recent McTell book. I would have been out of there in a big hurry too!

{edit: Peter, done!}
« Last Edit: April 05, 2011, 07:20:22 PM by Rivers »

Offline oddenda

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Re: Buddy Moss - prison photo & bio
« Reply #35 on: April 05, 2011, 07:17:14 PM »
No "e" in my last name, please!

pbl

Offline Johnm

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Re: Buddy Moss - prison photo & bio
« Reply #36 on: May 05, 2011, 09:53:54 PM »
Hi all,
There was an earlier thread on this topic in addition to the recent one, so I merged the two.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Kashana

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Re: Buddy Moss - prison photo & bio
« Reply #37 on: January 25, 2012, 05:43:44 PM »
Wow it's so good to hear things about my great uncle.. Do anyone have any contact with Buddy Moss family??

Offline Rivers

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Re: Buddy Moss - prison photo & bio
« Reply #38 on: January 25, 2012, 06:26:34 PM »
Kashana, welcome. I may be wrong but I doubt it, since it would likely have come up before.

Would you have any stories or recollections to share? Buddy Moss is a big favorite around here.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2012, 06:29:39 PM by Rivers »

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