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"Philadelphia" Jerry Ricks

Gerald Lawrence "Jerry" Ricks, b. May 22, 1940 in Philadelphia, PA, d. December 10, 2007 in Rijeka, Croatia, often billed as "Philadelphia" Jerry Ricks, was an country blues guitarist and singer.

Ricks was born and grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, playing trumpet as a child. He started playing guitar in local coffee shops in the late 1950s. He worked as a booking manager for the Second Fret Coffee House in Philadelphia from 1960-1966, coming into contact with many key figures in the blues revival, including Son House, Lightnin' Hopkins, Libba Cotten, Jesse Fuller, Mance Lipscomb, and Lonnie Johnson. He recorded with Mississippi John Hurt in 1964. In 1969, Ricks toured with Buddy Guy on a State Department-sponsored East African tour. After returning to the U.S. briefly to do field work in Arkansas for the Smithsonian Institution, he moved to Europe in 1971. He lived in Europe for most of the 1970s and 1980s, only returning to the US in 1972 and 1973, when he recorded with Hall & Oates on Whole Oats and Abandoned Luncheonette. In Germany, he recorded several albums with Oscar Klein, and in Italy recorded with Giulio Camarca. His first solo album, in 1984, was recorded in Zagreb, at that time in Yugoslavia, and he also recorded albums in Hungary, Austria and Switzerland. He returned to live in the United States in the early 1990s. His first American releases did not arrive until 1998, when Rooster Blues released his Deep in the Well. The album was nominated for three W.C. Handy Awards. Many Miles of Blues followed on the same label in 2000. In 2007 Ricks and his wife moved to Kastav, Croatia. He suffered a stroke that year, and a benefit concert featuring Shemekia Copeland and David Bromberg was held in the US to help pay his medical bills. He died on December 10, 2007, aged 67, in a hospital in Rijeka, Croatia. The biggest blues festival in Croatia, Kastav Blues Festival, is established in honour of ‘Philadelphia’ Jerry Ricks. It's being held from 2008 and is still ongoing. Every year in the first week of August, eminent names of national, european and global blues scene come to Kastav, Croatia to honour Jerry's inheritance.


Jerry Ricks Biography by Richard Skelly

"Philadelphia" Jerry Ricks has taken the art of blues guitar to new levels with his two groundbreaking releases for the Rooster Blues label. Raised in the City of Brotherly Love, Ricks has been splitting his time between Philadelphia and parts north during summer and Mississippi during the winter in recent years. Ricks got his master's degree in acoustic blues by hanging out with the likes of Mississippi John Hurt, Skip James, and other 1960s blues revival folk-blues musicians when they came to coffeehouses and small bars in Philadelphia. These were artists who were both great names and great personalities: Son House, Jesse Fuller, Libba Cotten, Lightnin' Hopkins, Mance Lipscomb, and others who were around for the 1960s folk and blues revival. In his capacity as booking manager for the Second Fret Coffee House in Philadelphia from 1960 to 1966, he had the chance to learn and practice "hangout-ology" with all the above-mentioned bluesmen and Cotten and other blueswomen.

Ricks was born May 22, 1940, in Philadelphia. He began playing guitar around Philadelphia area coffeehouses in the late '50s. "I played trumpet as a child and then switched over to the guitar because I used to watch people playing guitar in the streets," Ricks recalled in a late '90s interview. Lonnie Johnson and a few other classic bluesmen showed Ricks his first few blues chords while he was learning to play guitar. After traveling with Buddy Guy's band to East Africa in 1969 on behalf of the U.S. State Department, he caught the travel bug. He did some field research in Arkansas in 1970 for the Smithsonian Institution, working under Ralph Rinzler, and then departed for Europe.

Unlike other bluesmen who came up in a less progressive era, Ricks didn't leave the U.S. because he found the racial atmosphere too oppressive at home, as did people like Memphis Slim and, later, Luther Allison. (To be fair, Allison and Memphis Slim both found more work in Paris.) "I wanted my kids to be able to learn a foreign language," he said, "and it was good for me, 'cause there were like five blues people in all of Europe. I got married and divorced while I was over there, and after my divorce, I stayed there." Ricks said he got to know so many of the classic acoustic bluesmen on good terms because the performers would typically have "residency" shows at the Second Fret in Philadelphia. "I lived a couple of blocks away, so they would stay at my house. Acts at that time would have to play a minimum of two or three weeks, so I had them all day and all night for almost a month. We brought in Reverend Gary Davis, Jesse Fuller, Sleepy John Estes, and later, in 1963, we had Mississippi John Hurt and Skip James."

Ricks has two albums out on the Rooster Blues label, the critically acclaimed Deep in the Well and Many Miles of Blues, a 2000 release. Deep in the Well, released in 1998, garnered Ricks W.C. Handy Blues Award nominations in three categories: Acoustic Blues Artist of the Year; Acoustic Album of the Year, and Comeback Blues Album of the Year, the last because Ricks had spent so much time overseas and American audiences were largely unfamiliar with him. Despite a 13-album discography in Europe, Deep in the Well was Ricks' first U.S. release. He credits the great classic bluesmen of the 1960s for helping him to keep the faith (and enthusiasm) for live performing through the years. "I already knew how to play guitar when I met a lot of them," he explained, "and I had figured out a lot of stuff from their old records. Mainly, they talked to me about how to keep my head together and not run off on some kind of trip."

A Hard Pill To Swallow by Brownsville Son Bonds

A Hard Pill To Swallow - Brownsville Son Bonds. Bonds, vocal and lead guitar in G position, standard tuning, Sleepy John Estes, accompanying guitar in G position, standard tuning.

INTRO

It's a hard pill to swallow, fills my heart with pain
It's a hard pill to swallow, fills my heart with pain
Now, don't you hear me, people, I ain't no lyin' man

I woke up this mornin', I looked up at the sun, I thought about what my baby had done
That was a hard pill to swallow, it filled my heart with pain
Well, don't you hear me, people, I ain't no lyin' man

I went down on the corner, to the paper stand, I caught my baby making love with a man
That was a hard pill to swallow, it filled my heart with pain
Don't you hear me, people, I ain't no lyin' man

Well, the police walked up, and I didn't even run, now I'm serving my time, and my babe out havin' her fun
That's a hard pill to swallow, yes, it filled my heart with pain
Don't you hear me, people, I ain't no lyin' man

Well, when I was in prison, servin' my time, when I came back home, I heard a baby cryin'
That was a hard pill to swallow, it filled my heart with pain
Yeah, don't you hear me, people, I ain't no lyin' man

Henry T. Music Man by Henry Townsend (and Backwards Sam Firk with Henry Brown & Vernell Townsend)

Label: Adelphi Records.
Release Date: December, 1975.
Recording Time: 38 minutes.
Recording Date: 1969 - 1974.
Recording Info: September, 1969 at St. Louis, MO - 2, 3; August, 1970 at Potomac, MD - 1, 4; August, 1971 at Potomac, MD - 7, 9, 10; August, 1971 at Adelphi Studios, Silver Spring, MD - 5; April, 1974 at St. Louis, MO - 6, 8, 11.

Styles: Acoustic Memphis Blues, Country Blues, Piano Blues, Pre-War Country Blues, Regional Blues, Acoustic Blues, Folk-Blues, St. Louis Blues.

Personnel: Henry Townsend - vocal and guitar (1,3,4,5,6,7,9,10,11), vocal and piano (2,8); Mike Stewart - guitar (1,2,3,4,7,8,9,10,11); Henry Brown - piano (6); Vernell Townsend - vocal (5).

Several related factors come together here to make this a particularly wonderful blues album, something in the nature of a sleeper that may become a listener's favorite choice when it comes time for some blues. For one thing, there's the surprise factor in that this is not one of the "star" names in blues, due to the fact that Henry Townsend mostly recorded as a sideman, or under a bogus name such as St. Louis Jimmy. His is a top-quality blues voice and he is a sharp and accurate blues picker on both the electric and acoustic model, in the Lightnin' Hopkins and Skip James mode but with a harder edge. And he even throws in some decent blues piano, although the out-of-tune model he uses moves the whole thing into the rarified realm of microtonal blues. Over-familiarity can sometimes take the luster off a performance by a big-name artist, but that is guaranteed not to happen with Townsend because very few blues fans can say they have heard too much of him. Material was recorded over a five-year period, and the wandering and ever-changing sound quality also helps the album, as do the different instrumental combinations. The tandem guitar picking really sounds good, with that wooden back-porch quality that escaped most of the primitive recording machines in the old days, and couldn't possibly be recreated in a modern studio. One track worthy of special mention -- they are all really good -- is the vocal duet performance with Vernell Townsend, a song entitled "Why Do We Love Each Other?" This has a sound that really sticks with you. - Review by Eugene Chadbourne.

Credits: Henry Brown - piano; Pete Gutterman - liner art; G. L. Moore - album design; G. Rosental - producer; Joel Slotnikoff - cover photo; Mike Stewart - guitar, producer; Henry Townsend - composer, guitar, piano, primary artist, vocals; Vernell Townsend - cover concept, vocals.

Tracks: 1) Biddle Street Blues; 2) She Walked Away; 3) Every Day of My Life; 4) Sloppy Drunk Again; 5) Why Do We Love Each Other; 6) Deep Morgan Stomp; 7) Buzz, Buzz, Buzz; 8) Heart Trouble; 9) Doing Better in Life; 10) Do You Remember Me?; 11) Now or Never! | CD Bonus Tracks: Cairo Blues; Tired Of Being Mistreated.

Henry "Mule" Townsend

Henry Jesse James Townsend, b. October 27, 1909 in Shelby, MS, d. September 24, 2006 in Mequon, WI, blues singer, guitarist and pianist.

Townsend was born Henry Jesse James Townsend, in Shelby, Mississippi, and grew up in Cairo, Illinois. He left home at the age of nine because of an abusive father and hoboed his way to St. Louis, Missouri. He learned guitar while in his early teens from a locally renowned blues guitarist known as Dudlow Joe. By the late 1920s he had begun touring and recording with the pianist Walter Davis and had acquired the nickname Mule, because he was sturdy in both physique and character. In St. Louis, he worked with some of the early blues pioneers, including J. D. Short. Townsend was one of the only artists known to have recorded in nine consecutive decades. He first recorded in 1929 and remained active up to 2006. By the mid-1990s, Townsend and his one-time collaborator Yank Rachell were the only active blues artists whose careers had started in the 1920s. He recorded on several different labels, including Columbia Records and Folkways Records. Articulate and self-aware, with an excellent memory, Townsend gave many invaluable interviews to blues enthusiasts and scholars. Paul Oliver recorded him in 1960 and quoted him extensively in his 1967 work Conversations with the Blues. Thirty years later, Bill Greensmith edited thirty hours of taped interviews with Henry to produce a full autobiography, giving a vivid history of the blues scene in St Louis and East St Louis in its prime. In 1985 he received the National Heritage Fellowship in recognition of being a master artist. In 1995 he was inducted into the St. Louis Walk of Fame. Townsend died, at the age of 96, on September 24, 2006, at St. Mary's Ozaukee Hospital, Mequon, Wisconsin, just hours after having been the first person to be presented with a "key" in Grafton's Paramount Plaza Walk of Fame.

On February 10, 2008, Townsend was posthumously awarded a Grammy, his first, at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards. The award, in the category Best Traditional Blues Album, was given for his performances on Last of the Great Mississippi Delta Bluesmen: Live In Dallas, released by the Blue Shoe Project. Townsend's son, Alonzo Townsend, accepted the award on his behalf. On December 4, 2009, a marker commemorating Townsend was added to the Mississippi Blues Trail.


Henry Townsend Biography by Cub Koda

Influenced by Roosevelt Sykes and Lonnie Johnson, Henry Townsend was a commanding musician, adept on both piano and guitar. During the '20s and '30s, Townsend was one of the musicians that helped make St. Louis one of the blues centers of America.

Townsend arrived in St. Louis when he was around ten years old, just before the '20s began. By the end of the '20s, he had landed a record contract with Columbia, cutting several sides of open-tuning slide guitar for the label. Two years later, he made some similar recordings for Paramount. During this time, Townsend began playing the piano, learning the instrument by playing along with Roosevelt Sykes records. Within a few years, he was able to perform concerts with pianists like Walter Davis and Henry Brown.

During the '30s, Townsend was a popular session musician, performing with many of the era's most popular artists. By the late '30s, he had cut several tracks for Bluebird. Those were among the last recordings he ever made as a leader. During the '40s and '50s, Townsend continued to perform and record as a session musician, but he never made any solo records.

In 1960, he led a few sessions, but they didn't receive much attention. Toward the end of the '60s, Townsend became a staple on the blues and folk festivals in America, which led to a comeback. He cut a number of albums for Adelphi and he played shows throughout America. By the end of the '70s, he had switched from Adelphi to Nighthawk Records.

Townsend had become an elder statesmen of St. Louis blues by the early '80s, recording albums for Wolf and Swingmaster and playing a handful of shows every year. That's the Way I Do It, a documentary about Townsend, appeared on public television in 1984. During the late '80s, Townsend was nearly retired, but he continued to play the occasional concert until his death in 2006.

80 Highway Blues by Brownsville Son Bonds

80 Highway Blues - Brownsville Son Bonds.
Bonds, lead vocal and guitar in G position, standard tuning, Sleepy John Estes, backing guitar in G position, standard tuning.

INTRO

Sittin' down here, thinkin', yes, babe, I believe I'd better go
Sittin' down here, thinkin', yes, babe, I believe I had better go
You know, I believe I'll go down, that long, long old dusty road

Now, that 80 Highway, is the longest highway that I know
Now, that 80 Highway, is the longest highway that I know
Runnin' all the way from 'Frisco, Texas, 'way 'cross Atlantic on that other water coast

The church bell begin to tone, yes, some other good gambler's gone
The church bell begin to tone, yes, some other good gambler's gone
You know, I wouldn't hate it so bad, but that 80 Highway is so long

You women fuss and argue with your good man, when you know you don't do right yourself
You women fuss and argue with your good man, baby, when you know you don't do right yourself
You know, I'm gonna look for you at night, 'way down on 80 Highway with someone else

Yes, and if you get in trouble, call down to Clubhouse 45
Yes, if you get in trouble, call down to Clubhouse 45
Baby, and now you just open up my chifferobe, and you'll see where my dollar lies

Sam Chatmon's Advice by Sam Chatmon

Label: Rounder Records.
Release Date: 1979.
Releases: 1984.

rec. 1979 in San Diego, CA.
Styles: Country Blues, Delta Blues, Acoustic Blues, Regional Blues.

Sam Chatmon's Advice is an excellent collection that features many of his greatest sides from the early '30s, making it the best available distillation of Chatmon's numerous solo recordings. - Review by Thom Owens.

Credits: Myrtali Anagnosopoulos - design; Sam Chatmon - arranger, composer, liner notes, guitar, primary artist, vocals; Lou Curtis - producer; Virginia Curtis - photography; Lucy Fletcher - composer; W.C. Handy - composer; James A. Lane - composer; Little Brother Montgomery - composer; Fleecie Moore - composer; Mark Wilson - producer; Clarence Williams - composer.

Tracks: 1) St. Louis Blues (A1); 2) Hollandale Blues (A2); 3) Open That Book (A3); 4) Screwdriver (A4); 5) Fishing Blues (A5); 6) Ashtray Taxi (A6); 7) Vicksburg Blues (A7); 8) "P" Stands for "Push" (A8); 9) Let the Good Times Roll (B1); 10) I've Got Good Whiskey (B2); 11) Dough Roller Blues (B3); 12) Sugar Blues (B4); 13) Good Eating Meat (B5); 14) God Don't Like Ugly (B6); 15) That's Alright (B7); 16) Pussy Cat (B8); 17) I Hate That Train (B9).

Sam Chatmon

b. January 10, 1897 in Bolton, MS, d. February 2, 1983 in Hollandale, MS, Delta blues guitarist and singer. He was a member of the Mississippi Sheiks. He may have been Charlie Patton's half-brother.

Chatmon was born in Bolton, Mississippi. His family was well known in Mississippi for their musical talents; he was a member of the family's string band when he was young. In an interview he stated that he started playing the guitar at the age of 3, laying it flat on the floor and crawling under it. He regularly performed for white audiences in the 1900s. The Chatmon band played rags, ballads, and popular dance tunes. Two of Sam's brothers, the fiddler Lonnie Chatmon and the guitarist Bo Carter, performed with the guitarist Walter Vinson as the Mississippi Sheiks. Chatmon played the banjo, mandolin, and harmonica in addition to the guitar. He performed at parties and on street corners throughout Mississippi for small pay and tips. In the 1930s he recorded with the Sheiks and also with his brother Lonnie as the Chatman Brothers. Chatmon moved to Hollandale, Mississippi, in the early 1940s and worked on plantations there. He was rediscovered in 1960 and started a new chapter of his career as a folk-blues artist. In the same year he recorded for Arhoolie Records. He toured extensively during the 1960s and 1970s. While in California in 1970 he made several recordings with Sue Draheim, Kenny Hall, Ed Littlefield, Lou Curtiss, Kathy Hall, Will Scarlett and others at Sweet's Mill Music Camp, forming a group he called "The California Sheiks". He played many of the largest and best-known folk festivals, including the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C., in 1972, the Mariposa Folk Festival in Toronto in 1974, and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in 1976. A headstone memorial to Chatmon with the inscription "Sitting on top of the World" was paid for by Bonnie Raitt through the Mt. Zion Memorial Fund and placed in Sanders Memorial Cemetery, Hollandale, Mississippi, on March 14, 1998, in a ceremony held at the Hollandale Municipal Building, celebrated by the Mayor and members of the city council of Hollandale, with over 100 attendees.


Sam Chatmon Biography by Jim O'Neal

A product of the prodigious Chatmon family that included not only Lonnie of the famous Mississippi Sheiks but also the prolific Bo Carter and several other blues-playing brothers, Sam Chatmon survived to be hailed as a modern-day blues guru when he began performing and recording again in the '60s. Sam continued brother Bo's tradition of sly double-entendre blues to entertain a new generation of aficionados, but he also showed a more serious side on songs like the title track of the early Arhoolie anthology I Have to Paint My Face.

Chatmon began playing music as a child, occasionally with his family's string band, as well as the Mississippi Sheiks. Sam launched his own solo career in the early '30s. While he performed and recorded as a solo act, he would still record with the Mississippi Sheiks and with his brother Lonnie. Throughout the '30s, Sam travelled throughout the south, playing with a variety of minstrel and medicine shows. He stopped travelling in the early '40s, making himself a home in Hollandale, Mississippi, where he worked on plantations.

For the next two decades, Sam Chatmon was essentially retired from music and only worked on the plantations. When the blues revival arrived in the late '50s, he managed to capitalize on the genre's resurgent popularity. In 1960, he signed a contract with Arhoolie and he recorded a number of songs for the label. Throughout the '60s and '70s, he recorded for a variety of labels, as well as playing clubs and blues and folk festivals across America. Chatmon was an active performer and recording artist until his death in 1983.

Yo Yo Blues by Blind Lemon Jefferson

Yo Yo Blues (15665) - Blind Lemon Jefferson.
Richmond, September 24, 1929, Pm 12872,
E position and pitch, slightly #.

I would go yo-yoin' but I broke my yo-yo string.
I say, I would go yo-yoin' but I've broke my yo-yo string.
I believe my baby's goin' crazy, losin' her mind, Lord, the woman is goin' insane.

Don't a man feel bad when he can't yo-yo no more.
Don't a man feel bad when he can't yo-yo no more.
Broke my yo-yo string last night and I can't come home no more.

My sugar got ways, partner, I can't understand.
My sugar got ways, partner, I can't understand.
Leave me home in my bed, go yo-yo with some other man.

I love my yo-yo better than anything I know.
Man, I love my yo-yo better than anything I know.
I'm feelin' funny and foolish, I can't shake that thing no more.

Cotton Mouth Man by James Cotton

Label: Alligator Records.
Release Date: May 7, 2013.
Recording Time: 48 minutes.

Styles: Electric Chicago Blues, Harmonica Blues, Modern Electric Blues, Modern Electric Chicago Blues, Regional Blues, Delta Blues, Electric Harmonica Blues.

Blues harp maestro James Cotton was 77 at the time of this album's release. He can barely sing anymore, and the years of playing and touring have left his voice a hoarse croak, but make no mistake, he can still play the harp, and his stunning, overdriven blasts on the instrument are as powerful and as immediate as ever. He's the living embodiment of the Chicago blues, and one of the genre's last surviving founders of it, having mentored with the great Sonny Boy Williamson, and he recorded, played, and toured with Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters, cutting his first sides at the age of 19 for Chess Records. He's done this a long time, and as this delightful, joyous, stomping, and vibrant set shows, he doesn't need to sing to command the stage. Cotton wrote or co-wrote most of the songs here with the album's producer, Tom Hambridge, and the vocals are handled by guest artists, most of them by Darrell Nulisch, the former Texas Heat and Anson Funderburgh & the Rockets vocalist who has been handling the singing duties for Cotton's band for some time now, but Gregg Allman, Warren Haynes, Ruthie Foster, Delbert McClinton, and Keb' Mo' are also featured singers. But this isn't one of those duets albums that artists make in the twilight of their careers by any shot -- Cotton is amazing on these cuts, his harp blasts full of passion, power, and enough pure energy to light up the night sky. Cotton may not do somersaults on stage anymore, but his harp lines do, weaving in and out of these songs like a charging Chicago freight train. There isn't a single lame cut here, but the closer, "Bonnie Blue," with Cotton croaking out a moving vocal accompanied only by his harp and the resonator guitar playing of Colin Linden, is particularly poignant. Cotton may be cruising in on 80 years of age, but he's just released one of the best albums of his career.- Review by Steve Leggett.

Credits: Gregg Allman - featured artist, guest artist, vocals; Nick Autry - engineer; Shane Baldwin - engineer; Joe Bonamassa - featured artist, guest artist, guitar; Jim Cooley - engineer; James Cotton - harmonica, primary artist, vocals; Dollison - composer; Christopher Durst - photography; Ruthie Foster - featured artist, vocals; Ruthis Foster - guest artist; Tom Hambridge - drums, mastering, mixing, percussion, producer, vocals (background); Warren Haynes - featured artist, guest artist, guitar, vocals; Tom Holland - guitar; Bruce Iglauer - executive producer; Keb' Mo' - featured artist, guest artist, guitar, vocals; Chuck Leavell - hammond b3, keyboards, piano, wurlitzer piano; Colin Linden - guitar (resonator); Tommy Macdonald - bass; Delbert McClinton - featured artist, guest artist, vocals; Obie McClinton - composer; Rob McNelley - guitar, guitar (rhythm); Rob McNelly - guitar; Brendan Muldowney - engineer; Noel Neal - bass; Kevin Niemiec - package design; Darrell Nulisch - vocals; Jerry Porter - drums; Michael Saint-Leon - mastering, mixing; Stuart Sullivan - engineer; Clenn Worf - bass; Glenn Worf - bass, bass (upright).

Tracks: 1) Cotton Mouth Man; 2) Midnight Train; 3) Mississippi Mud; 4) He Was There; 5) Something for Me; 6) Wrapped Around My Heart; 7) Saint on Sunday; 8) Hard Sometimes; 9) Young Bold Women; 10) Bird Nest on the Ground; 11) Wasn't My Time to Go; 12) Blues Is Good for You; 13) Bonnie Blue.


James Cotton died at a medical center in Austin, Texas from pneumonia on March 16, 2017 at the age of 81. R.I.P.

Son Bonds

Abraham John Bond Jr., known as Son Bonds, b. March 16, 1909 in Brownsville, TN, d. August 31, 1947 in Dyersburg, TN, country blues guitarist, singer and songwriter. He was a working associate of Sleepy John Estes and Hammie Nixon. He was similar to Estes in his guitar-playing style. According to Allmusic journalist Jim O'Neal, "the music to one of Bonds's songs, 'Back and Side Blues' (1934), became a standard blues melody when Sonny Boy Williamson I, from nearby Jackson, Tennessee, used it in his classic "Good Morning, School Girl". The best-known of Bonds's other works are "A Hard Pill to Swallow" and "Come Back Home."

Bonds was born in Brownsville, Tennessee. He was also billed on record as "Brownsville" Son Bonds and Brother Son Bonds. Sleepy John Estes, in his earlier recordings, was backed by Yank Rachell (mandolin) or Hammie Nixon (harmonica), but by the late 1930s he was accompanied in the recording studio by either Bonds or Charlie Pickett (guitar). Bonds also backed Estes on a couple of recording sessions in 1941. In return, either Estes or Nixon played on every one of Bonds's own recordings. In the latter part of his career, Bonds played the kazoo as well as the guitar on several tracks. According to Nixon's later accounts of the event, Bonds suffered an accidental death in August 1947. While sitting on his front porch late one evening in Dyersburg, Tennessee, Bonds was shot to death by his nearsighted neighbor, who mistook Bonds for another man with whom the neighbor was having a protracted disagreement.


Son Bonds Biography by Jim O'Neal

An associate of Sleepy John Estes and Hammie Nixon, Bonds played very much in the same rural Brownsville style that the Estes-Nixon team popularized in the '20s and '30s. Curiously, either Estes or Nixon (but never both of them together) played on all of Bonds's recordings. The music to one of Bonds's songs, "Back and Side Blues" (1934), became a standard blues melody when John Lee "Sonny Boy" Williamson from nearby Jackson, TN, used it in his classic "Good Morning, (Little) School Girl" (1937). According to Nixon, Bonds was shot to death, while sitting on his front porch, by a nearsighted neighbor who mistook him for another man.

Walking Blues by Peg Leg Howell

Walking Blues - Peg Leg Howell,
in Spanish, capoed up.

Everybody got a lovin' mama but me
Everybody got a lovin' ma but me
That keeps me worried, troubled, don't you see?

I'm goin' down South, wear 99 pair of shoes
I'm goin' down South, mama, wear 99 pair of shoes
I'm gonna keep a-walking, 'til I lose these blues

Say your cryin', it sure don't make me stay
Your cryin', it sure don't make me stay
You keep on cryin' and further you drive me away

Don't never drive a good man from your door
Don't never drive a good man from your door
He may be your rider someday, you don't know

I stood and cried, cried the whole night through
I stood and cried, mama, cried the whole night through
I swear I don't love no other one but you