March 15: The Legend Lightnin Hopkins was born in 1912

Sam John Hopkins (March 15, 1912 – January 30, 1982), better known as Lightnin’ Hopkins, was an American country blues singer, songwriter, guitarist and occasional pianist, fromHouston, Texas. Rolling Stone magazine included Hopkins at number 71 on their list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time.

Musicologist Robert “Mack” McCormick opined that Hopkins “is the embodiment of the jazz-and-poetry spirit, representing its ancient form in the single creator whose words and music are one act”

I came to Lightnin’ Hopkins through Townes Van Zandt and Justin Townes Earle (I guess he discovered him through Townes as well…). I was expecting something ancient, something old, but Hopkins sounds modern and his guitar playing is just out of this world!

Sometimes music hit you so hard you simply do not know what happened, Justin Townes Earle did just that when he covered the relatively unknown song, hell, he  ripped through a rousing version of Lightnin’ Hopkins’ My starter won’t start (I been burnin bad gasoline). And suddenly I understood what/why Hopkins was held in as high a regard as he does! It was pure magic! (see own post)

Lightnin’ Hopkins – Baby Please Don’t go:

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March 8: Mississippi John Hurt was born in 1892

Photo: Rowland Scherman

“The Blues ain’t nothin’ but a good woman on your mind.”
~Mississippi John Hurt

No blues singer ever presented a more gentle, genial image than Mississippi John Hurt. A guitarist with an extraordinarily lyrical and refined fingerpicking style, he also sang with a warmth unique in the field of blues, and the gospel influence in his music gave it a depth and reflective quality unusual in the field.
~Bruce Eder (allmusic.com)

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March 6: Furry Lewis Birthday

Good Morning, Judge.
What will be my fine?
Good Morning, Judge.
What will be my fine?
He said I’m glad I got to see you,
That’ll be a dollar forty-nine.

They arrested me for forgery, I can’t even sign my name
(Judge Harsh Blues)

Furry Lewis was the only blues singer of the 1920s to achieve major media attention in the ’60s and ’70s. One of the most recorded Memphis-based guitarists of the late ’20s, Lewis’ subsequent fame 40 years later was based largely on the strength of those early sides. One of the very best blues storytellers, and an extremely nimble-fingered guitarist into his seventies, he was equally adept at blues and ragtime, and made the most out of an understated, rather than an overtly flamboyant style.
~Bruce Eder (allmusic.com)

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February 18: Ray Charles recorded What’d I Say in 1959

Ray_Charles_-_What'd_I_Say

I’m not one to interpret my own songs, but if you can’t figure out ‘What I Say’, then something’s wrong. Either that, or you’re not accustomed to the sweet sounds of love.
—Ray Charles

The feel comes from gospel but the resulting witty, elegant essay on rhythm and sex and why they’re inseparable is purely pagan.
~Dave Marsh (The Heart of Rock & Soul)

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February 16: The late Otis Blackwell was born in 1931

otis blackwell

I like this town, it’s really great. They’ve put me in The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. This town is about music. It’s about the kind of music I like.
~Otis Blackwell

I used to go down every year for the remembrance of Elvis’ birthday. Memphis State College invited me to sit in the auditorium and speak to the people for one of those Elvis days.
~Otis Blackwell

Blackwell’s songwriting style is as identifiable as that of Willie Dixon or Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller. He helped formulate the musical vocabulary of rock & roll when the genre was barely breathing on its own.
~Bill Dahl (allmusic.com)

All Shook Up -Elvis Presley:

Great Balls Of Fire – Jerry Lee Lewis:

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