WELCOME TO BLIND DOG RADIO

The Traditional Delta and Country Blues

Robert Belfour

Robert "Wolfman" Belfour, b. September 11, 1940 in Red Banks, MS, d. February 24, 2015 in Memphis, Country blues musician, active 1980s - 2000s. 

He was born in Red Banks, Mississippi. When he was a child, his father, Grant Belfour, taught him to play the guitar, and he continued his tutelage in the blues from the musicians Otha Turner, R. L. Burnside, and Junior Kimbrough. Kimbrough, in particular, had a profound influence on him. His music was rooted in Mississippi hill country traditions, in contrast to Delta blues. His playing was characterized by a percussive attack and alternate tunings. When Belfour was thirteen, his father died, and music was relegated to what free time he had, as his energy went to helping his mother provide for the family. In 1959, he married Noreen Norman and moved to Memphis, Tennessee, where he worked in construction for the next 35 years. In the 1980s, Belfour began playing on Beale Street. Eight of his songs are included on the musicologist David Evans's compilation album The Spirit Lives On: Deep South Country Blues and Spirituals in the 1990s, released by the German Hot Fox label in 1994. This led Belfour to Fat Possum Records and record his first album, What's Wrong With You, released in 2000. The album Pushin' My Luck followed in 2003, receiving a positive critical review. Belfour died on February 24, 2015, at the age of 74. 


Robert Belfour Biography by Keith Brown

Robert 'Wolfman' Belfour is a little-known but very powerful blues guitarist and singer based in Memphis, Tennessee. Born to sharecropper parents on a farm in Holly Springs, Mississippi, he began playing guitar in the late '40s after the death of his father who left the instrument to him. He learned by emulating the sounds of such greats as John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, and his idol, Howlin Wolf, as they were being broadcast on his mother's battery-operated radio. He was also influenced to some extent by his neighbor, Junior Kimbrough. Belfour's style is deeply-rooted in the sounds of his North Mississippi birthplace. It is a highly rhythmic and riff-oriented type of playing that can also be heard in the work of other players from the region, like Jessie Mae Hemphill, R.L. Burnside, and the late Fred Mcdowell.

Belfour moved to Memphis in 1968 and started playing on Beale street in the early 80s at the suggestion of his wife. He was recorded by musicologist David Evans in 1994 for the German-based Hot Fox label, playing eight songs on a 20-song compilation, The Spirit Lives On, Deep South Country Blues and Spirituals in the 1990s. The record also features selections from veteran barrelhouse piano player and long-time Memphis resident Mose Vinson, who is also a native of Holly Springs. Although Belfour is virtually unkown in the United States, he makes yearly trips to Europe to perform for enthusiastic and very appreciative crowds who have a deep reverence for authentic country blues, releasing What's Wrong with You in mid-2000.