sábado, 6 de agosto de 2011

Taj Mahal

Henry Saint Clair Fredericks (born May 17, 1942), who uses the stage name Taj Mahal, is an internationally recognized blues musician with two Grammy Awards to date who folds various forms of world music into his offerings. A self-taught singer-songwriter and film composer who plays the guitar, banjo and harmonica (among many other instruments), Mahal has done much to reshape the definition and scope of blues music over the course of his almost 50 year career by fusing it with nontraditional forms, including sounds from the Caribbean, Africa and the South Pacific.
Born Henry Saint Clair Fredericks, Jr. on May 17, 1942 in Harlem, New York, Mahal grew up in Springfield, Massachusetts. Raised in a musical environment, his mother was the member of a local gospel choir and his father was a West Indian jazz arranger and piano player. His family owned a shortwave radio which received music broadcasts from around the world, exposing him at an early age to world music. Early in childhood he recognized the stark differences between the popular music of his day and the music that was played in his home. He also became interested in jazz, enjoying the works of musicians such as Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk and Milt Jackson. His parents came of age during the Harlem Renaissance, instilling in their son a sense of pride in his West Indian and African ancestry through their stories.
Taj Mahal at the Museumsquartier in Vienna (Jazz-Fest Wien)
Because his father was a musician, his house was frequently the host of other musicians from the Caribbean, Africa, and the United States. His father, Henry Saint Clair Fredericks Sr., was called "The Genius" by Ella Fitzgerald before starting his family. Early on, Henry Jr. developed an interest in African music, which he studied assiduously as a young man. His parents also encouraged him to pursue music, starting him out with classical piano lessons. He also studied the clarinet, trombone and harmonica. When Mahal was aged eleven his father was killed in an accident at his own construction company, crushed by a tractor when it flipped over. This was an extremely traumatic experience for the boy. Mahal's mother later remarried. His stepfather owned a guitar which Taj began using at age 13 or 14, receiving his first lessons from a new neighbor from North Carolina of his own age that played acoustic blues guitar. His name was Lynwood Perry, the nephew of the famous bluesman Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup. In high school Mahal sang in a doo-wop group.
For some time Mahal thought of pursuing farming over music. He had developed a passion for farming that nearly rivaled his love of music—coming to work on a farm first at age 16. It was a dairy farm in Palmer, Massachusetts, not far from Springfield. By age nineteen he had become farm foreman, getting up a bit after 4:00 a.m. and running the place. "I milked anywhere between thirty-five and seventy cows a day. I clipped udders. I grew corn. I grew Tennessee redtop clover. Alfalfa." Mahal believes in growing one's own food, saying, "You have a whole generation of kids who thinks everything comes out of a box and a can, and they don't know you can grow most of your food." Because of his personal support of the family farm, Mahal regularly performs at Farm Aid concerts.

Taj Mahal, his stage name, came to him in dreams about Gandhi, India, and social tolerance. He started using it in 1959 or 1961—around the same time he began attending the University of Massachusetts. Despite having attended a vocational agriculture school, becoming a member of the National FFA Organization, and majoring in animal husbandry and minoring in veterinary science and agronomy, Mahal decided to take the route of music instead of farming. In college he led a rhythm and blues band called Taj Mahal & The Elektras and, before heading for the West Coast, he was also part of a duo with Jessie Lee Kincaid.
In 1964 he moved to Santa Monica, California, and formed The Rising Sons with fellow blues musician Ry Cooder and Jessie Lee Kincaid, landing a record deal with Columbia Records soon after. The group was one of the first interracial bands of the period, which likely made them commercially unviable. An album was never released (though a single was) and the band soon broke up, though Legacy Records did release The Rising Sons Featuring Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder in 1993 with material from that period. During this time Mahal was working with others, musicians like Howlin' Wolf, Buddy Guy, Lightnin' Hopkins, and Muddy Waters.

Mahal stayed with Columbia after The Rising Sons to begin his solo career, releasing the self-titled Taj Mahal in 1968, The Natch'l Blues in 1969, and Giant Step/De Old Folks at Home (also in 1969). During this time he and Cooder worked with The Rolling Stones, with whom he has performed at various times throughout his career. In 1968, he performed in the film The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus. He recorded a total of twelve albums for Columbia Records from the late 1960s into the 1970s. His work of the 1970s was especially important, in that his releases began incorporating West Indian and Caribbean music, jazz and reggae into the mix. In 1972 he wrote the film score for the movie Sounder, which starred Cicely Tyson.
In 1976 Mahal left Columbia Records and signed with Warner Bros. Records, recording three albums for them. One of these was another film score for 1977's Brothers; the album shares the same name. After his time with Warner Bros. Records he struggled to find another record contract, this being the era of heavy metal and disco music.
Taj Mahal at the Liri Blues Festival, Italy, in 2005

Stalled in his career, he decided to move to Kauai, Hawaii in 1981 and soon formed The Hula Blues Band. Originally just a group of guys getting together for fishing and a good time, the band soon began performing regularly and touring. He remained somewhat concealed from most eyes while working out of Hawaii throughout most of the 1980s before recording Taj in 1988 for Gramavision. This started a comeback of sorts for him, recording both for Gramavision and Hannibal Records during this time.
In the 1990s he was on the Private Music label, releasing albums full of blues, pop, R&B and rock. He did collaborative works both with Eric Clapton and Etta James.
In 1998, in collaboration with renowned songwriter David Forman, producer Rick Chertoff and musicians Cyndi Lauper, Willie Nile, Joan Osborne, Rob Hyman, Garth Hudson and Levon Helm of The Band, and The Chieftains, he performed on the Americana album Largo based on the music of Antonín Dvořák.
In 1997 he won Best Contemporary Blues Album for Señor Blues at the Grammy Awards, followed by another Grammy for Shoutin' in Key in 2000. He performed the theme song to the children's television show Peep and the Big Wide World, which began broadcast in 2004.
In 2002, Mahal appeared on the Red Hot Organization's compilation album Red Hot and Riot in tribute to Nigerian afropop musician Fela Kuti. The Paul Heck produced album was widely acclaimed, and all proceeds from the record were donated to AIDS charities.



Taj Mahal (Henry Saint Clair Fredericks) es músico de blues, Taj logró fusionar lo rural con el jazz, el blues, reggae, calypso, zydeco y música hawaiana en una sintetizada e infinita melodía propia.
Nació en Nueva York en 1942, su padre era un indígena de la zona del oeste de Estados unidos y su madre era Afroamericana, Taj fue expuesto a múltiples culturas desde su nacimiento. Taj Mahal grabó su primer disco en 1967 y rápidamente estaba dando shows con los Grateful Dead y Jefferson Airplane. Taj fue un multi-instrumentista (tocaba la guitarra, el piano, el bajo, el órgano, mandolina, chelo, salterio, flautín, la armónica, kalimba, vibráfono, dobro...). Taj por siempre compuso nuevas músicas combinando nuevas formas musicales resultando llenas de energía y con resultados evocativos.

Durante un breve período, en 1971, colaboró con la banda de jazz-rock española Om.

Albert Collins

Albert Collins (October 1, 1932 – November 24, 1993) was an electric blues guitarist and singer (and occasional harmonica player) whose recording career began in the 1960s in Houston and whose fame eventually took him to stages across the U.S.A., Europe, Japan and Australia. He had many nicknames, such as "The Ice Man", "The Master of the Telecaster" and "The Razor Blade".
Born in Leona, Texas, Collins was a distant relative of Lightnin' Hopkins and grew up learning about music and playing guitar. His family moved to Houston, Texas when he was seven. Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, he absorbed the blues sounds and styles from Texas, Mississippi and Chicago. His style would soon envelop these sounds. He regularly named John Lee Hooker and organist Jimmy McGriff, along with Hopkins, Guitar Slim and Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown as major influences on his playing.

He formed his first band in 1952 and two years later was the headliner at several blues clubs in Houston. By the late 1950s Collins began using Fender Telecasters. He later chose a "maple-cap" 1966 Custom Fender Telecaster with a Gibson PAF humbucker in the neck position and a 100 watt RMS silverfaced 1970s Fender Quad Reverb combo as his main equipment, and developed a unique sound featuring minor tunings, sustained notes and an "attack" fingerstyle. He also frequently used a capo on his guitar, particularly on the 5th, 7th, and 9th frets. He primarily favored an "open F-minor" tuning (low to high: F-C-F-Ab-C-F). In the booklet from the CD Ice Pickin, it was stated that Albert tuned to a "D minor D-A-D-F-A-D" Tuning. He played without a pick, using his thumb and first finger. Collins credited his unusual tuning to his cousin, Willow Young, who taught it to him.
Collins began recording in 1958 and released singles, including many instrumentals such as the million selling "Frosty". on Texas-based labels like Kangaroo and Hall-Way. A number of these singles were collected on the album The Cool Sounds Of Albert Collins on the TCF Hall label (later reissued on the Blue Thumb label as Truckin’ With Albert Collins.) In the spring of 1965 he moved to Kansas City, Missouri and made a name for himself there. This was also where he met his future wife, Gwendolyn.
Many of Kansas City's recording studios had closed by the mid 1960s. Unable to record, Collins moved to California in 1967. He lived in Palo Alto, CA for a short time before moving to Los Angeles, CA and played many of the West Coast venues popular with the counter-culture. In early 1969 after playing a concert with Canned Heat, members of this band introduced him to Liberty Records. In appreciation, Collins’ first album title, Love Can Be Found Anywhere, was taken from the lyrics of "Fried Hockey Boogie". Collins signed and released his first album on Imperial Records, a sister label, in 1968.

Collins remained in California for another five years, and was popular on double-billed shows at The Fillmore and the Winterland. He was signed to Alligator Records in 1978 and recorded and released Ice Pickin'. He would record seven more albums with the label, before being signed to Point Blank Records in 1990.
Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, Collins toured the United States, Canada, Europe and Japan. He was becoming a popular blues musician and was an influence for Coco Montoya, Robert Cray, Gary Moore, Debbie Davies, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jonny Lang, Susan Tedeschi, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, John Mayer and Frank Zappa.
In 1983, when he won the W. C. Handy Award for his album Don't Lose Your Cool, which won the award for Best Blues Album of the Year. In 1987, he shared a Grammy for the album Showdown! (released in 1986) which he recorded with Robert Cray and Johnny Copeland. The following year his solo release Cold Snap was also nominated for a Grammy. In 1987, John Zorn enlisted him to play lead guitar in a suite he had composed especially for him, entitled "Two-Lane Highway," on Zorn's album Spillane .
Alongside George Thorogood and the Destroyers and Bo Diddley, Collins performed at Live Aid in 1985, playing "The Sky Is Crying" and "Madison Blues", at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia. He was the only black blues artist to appear.

In 1987, Collins made a cameo appearance in the film Adventures in Babysitting, he insisted to Elisabeth Shue that "nobody leaves this place without singin' the blues", forcing the children to improvise a song before escaping.
Collins was invited to play at the 'Legends Of Guitar Festival' concerts in Seville, Spain at the Expo in 1992, where amongst others, he played "Iceman", the title track from his final studio album.
He made his last visit to London, England in March 1993.
After falling ill at a show in Switzerland in late July 1993, he was diagnosed in mid August with lung cancer which had metastasized to his liver, with an expected survival time of four months. Parts of his last album, Live '92/'93, were recorded at shows that September; he died shortly afterwards, in November at the age of 61. He was survived by his wife, Gwendolyn. He is interred at the Davis Memorial Park, Las Vegas, Nevada.
Collins will be remembered not only for the quantity of quality blues music that he put out throughout his career that has inspired so many other blues musicians, but also for his live performances, where he would frequently come down from the stage, attached to his amplifier with a very long cord, and mingle with the audience whilst still playing. He was known to leave clubs while still playing, and continue to play outside on the sidewalk, even boarding a city bus in Chicago while playing, outside of a club called Biddy Mulligan’s (the bus driver stayed at the bus stop until Collins got off).
Collins has influenced many artists and did collaborations with Ronnie Wood, Jimmy Page, Robert Cray, Keith Richards, Johnny Nitro, Jeff Beck, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Gary Moore, B.B. King, Larry Carlton and Eric Clapton.

Collins is also remembered for his humorous stage presence, which was recounted in the film documentary, Antones: Austin's Home of the Blues. Apparently Albert got into a long solo one night Antone's, then left the building, still plugged in and playing. Several minutes after Collins returned to the stage, a pizza delivery man came in and gave Collins the pizza he had just ordered when he left the building. Collins had gone to Milto's Pizza & Pasta through an adjoining alley and ordered while he was still playing.



Albert Collins (1 de octubre de 1932 – 24 de noviembre de 1993) fue un guitarrista de blues, cantante y músico estadounidense. Tenía numerosos apodos, como “The Ice Man”, “The Master of the Telecaster”, y “The Razor Blade”.
Nacido en Leona, Texas, Collins era un pariente lejano de Lightnin' Hopkins y creció aprendiendo a tocar la guitarra. Su familia se trasladó a Houston, Texas cuando tenía 7 años. A lo largos de los años 40 y 50, absorbió los sonidos y estilos del blues de Texas, Misisipi y Chicago.
Formó su primer grupo en 1952 y dos años más tarde era la principal atracción en varios clubs de blues de Houston. A finales de los 50, Collins comenzó a utilizar Fender Telecasters. Más tarde eligió como principal equipo una Fender Telecaster Custom de 1966, con una pastilla Gibson PAF en el cuello y un combo Fender Quad Reverb plateado de 1970 con 100 watt RMS. Desarrolló un sonido único incluyendo afinaciones menores, notas sostenidas y un estilo de ataque con los dedos de la mano derecha. A menudo empleaba una cejilla en su guitarra, sobre todo en los trastes 5, 7 y 9. La afinación que más empleaba era la abierta en Fa menor (de cuerda más baja a más alta: FA-DO-FA-Lab-DO-FA).

Collins comenzó a grabar en 1960 y publicó singles, incluyendo muchos instrumentales como “Frosty”. En la primavera de 1965 se trasladó a Kansas City, Misuri, y se hizo un nombre.
Muchos de los estudios de grabación de Kansas City habían cerrado a mediados de los 60. No teniendo la posibilidad de grabar, Collins se trasladó a California en 1967. Se instaló en San Francisco y tuvo contacto con la contracultura de la época. A comienzos de 1969, mientras tocaba en un concierto con Canned Heat, los miembros del grupo lo presentaron a Liberty Records. Como agradecimiento, el título del primer disco de Collins para United Artists, “Love Can Be Found Anywhere” fue tomado de la letra de “Refried Hockey Boogie”. Collins editó su primer álbum en Imperial Records en 1968.
Collins permaneció en California durante otros cinco años, y era popular en conciertos dobles en The Fillmore y el Winterland. Collins volvió a Texas en 1973 y formó un nuevo grupo. Firmó con Alligator Records en 1978 y grabó y publicó Ice Pickin´. A lo largo de los años grabaría otros siete álbumes para el sello, antes de firmar con Point Blank Records en 1990.
A lo largo de los 80 y comienzos de los 90, Collins hizo giras por los Estados Unidos, Canadá, Europa y Japón. Se estaba convirtiendo en un músico de blues popular, y era una influencia para Coco Montoya, Robert Cray, Gary Moore, Debbie Davies, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Albert King, Jonny Lang, Susan Tedeschi, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, John Mayer y Frank Zappa.
En 1983, ganó el premio W.C Handy por su álbum Don´t Lose Your Cool, que ganó el premio a mejor álbum de blues del año. En 1985, compartió el Grammy por el álbum Showdown!, que grabó con Robert Cray y Johnny Copeland. Al año siguiente, su disco Cold Snap también fue nominado a los Grammys. En 1987, John Zorn lo escogió para tocar la guitarra solista en una suite que había compuesto especialmente para él, titulada “Two-Lane Highway”, en su álbum Spillane.
Junto con George Thorogood and the Destroyers, y Bo Diddley, Collins tocó las canciones “The Sky Is Crying” y “Madison Blues” en el Live Aid de 1985, en el JFK Stadium.

Tras enfermar durante un concierto en Suiza a finales de julio de 1993, a mediados de agosto le fue diagnosticado un cáncer de pulmón que se había metastatizado al hígado, con una esperanza de vida de aproximadamente cuatro meses. Partes de su último álbum, Live ´92/93´ fueron grabadas en conciertos en septiembre; murió poco después, en noviembre, a la edad de 61 años.

Albert King

Albert King (April 25, 1923 – December 21, 1992) was an American blues guitarist and singer, and a major influence in the world of blues guitar playing.
One of the "Three Kings of the Blues Guitar" (along with B. B. King and Freddie King), Albert King stood 6' 4" (192 cm) (some reports say 6' 7") and weighed 250 lbs (118 kg) and was known as "The Velvet Bulldozer". He was born Albert Nelson on a cotton plantation in Indianola, Mississippi, also the birthplace of B.B. King. Although the two were not related, Albert occasionally referred to himself as "B.B. King's half brother". During his childhood he would sing at a family gospel group at a church where his father played the guitar. One of 13 children, King grew up picking cotton on plantations near Forrest City, Arkansas, where the family moved when he was eight.

He began his professional work as a musician with a group called In The Groove Boys in Osceola, Arkansas. Moving north to Gary, Indiana and later St. Louis, Missouri, he briefly played drums for Jimmy Reed's band and on several early Reed recordings. Influenced by blues musicians Blind Lemon Jefferson and Lonnie Johnson, but also, interestingly enough, Hawaiian music, the electric guitar became his signature instrument, his preference being the Gibson Flying V which he named "Lucy". King earned his nickname "The Velvet Bulldozer" during this period as he drove one of them and also worked as a mechanic to make a living.
King moved to Chicago in 1953 where he cut his first single for Parrot Records, but it was only a minor regional success. He then went back to St. Louis in 1956 and formed a new band. It was during this period that he settled on using the Flying V as his primary guitar.
He resumed recording in 1959 with his first minor hit "I'm a Lonely Man" written by Bobbin Records A&R man and fellow guitar hero Little Milton, responsible for King's signing with the label. However, it was not until his 1961 release "Don't Throw Your Love on Me So Strong" that he had a major hit,[1] reaching number fourteen on the U.S. Billboard R&B chart. The song was included on his first album The Big Blues, released in 1962. He then signed with jazz artist Leo Gooden's Coun-Tree label. King's reputation continued to grow in the Midwest, but a jealous Gooden then dropped him from the label. In 1966, he went to Memphis and signed with the Stax record label. Produced by Al Jackson, Jr., King with Booker T. & the MGs recorded dozens of influential sides, such as "Crosscut Saw" and "As The Years Go Passing By", and in 1967 Stax released the album, Born Under a Bad Sign. The title track of that album (written by Booker T. Jones and William Bell) became King's best known song and has been covered by many artists (from Cream to Homer Simpson). The success of the album made King nationally known for the first time and began to influence white musicians.

Another landmark album followed in Live Wire/Blues Power from one of many dates King played at promoter Bill Graham's Fillmore venues. It had a wide and long-term influence on Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Robbie Robertson, and later Gary Moore and Stevie Ray Vaughan ("Criminal World", on David Bowie's 1983 release "Let's Dance", features a guitar solo copied note-for-note from his hero Albert King by young session musician Stevie Ray Vaughan).
In 1969, King performed live with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. During the early '70s, he recorded an album Lovejoy with a group of white rock singers, an Elvis Presley tribute album, Albert King Does The King's Things, and a cameo on a Mel Brooks comedy album A Star is Bought.
According to Bill Graham, "Albert was one of the artists I used many times for various reasons. He wasn't just a good guitar player; he had a wonderful stage presence, he was very congenial and warm, he was relaxed on stage, and he related to the public. Also he never became a shuck-and-jiver. One of the things that happened in the '60s--it's not a very nice thing to say, but it happens to be true--was that blues musicians began to realize that white America would accept anything they did on stage. And so many of them became jive. But Albert remained a guy who just went on stage and said 'Let's play.'"

On June 6, 1970, King joined The Doors on stage at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver, Canada. He lent his distinctive guitar to blues cuts such as “Little Red Rooster,” “Money,” “Rock Me” and “Who Do You Love.”
In the 1970s, King was teamed with members of The Bar-Kays and The Movement (Isaac Hayes's backing group), including bassist James Alexander and drummer Willie Hall adding strong funk elements to his music. Adding strings and multiple rhythm guitarists, producers Allen Jones and Henry Bush created a wall of sound that contrasted the sparse, punchy records King made with Booker T. & the MGs. Among these was another of King's signature tunes "I'll Play the Blues For You" in 1972.
King influenced others such as Mick Taylor, Derek Trucks, Warren Haynes, Mike Bloomfield and Joe Walsh (the James Gang guitarist spoke at King's funeral). He also had an impact on contemporaries Albert Collins and Otis Rush. Clapton has said that his work on the 1967 Cream hit "Strange Brew" and throughout the album Disraeli Gears was inspired by King.
By the late 1980s, King began to muse about retirement, not unreasonable given that he had health problems. He continued regular tours and appearances at blues festivals, using (since the '70s) a customized Greyhound tour bus with "I'll Play The Blues For You" painted on the side. Shortly before his death, he was planning yet another overseas tour. His final album, Red House, was recorded in 1992 and named for the Jimi Hendrix song that he covered on it. The album was largely ignored because of bad production quality (the background instrumentals drowning out King's guitar playing), and original copies of it are scarce.
King died on December 21, 1992 from a heart attack in his Memphis, Tennessee home. His final concert had been in Los Angeles two days earlier. He was given a funeral procession with the Memphis Horns playing When The Saints Go Marching In and buried in Edmonson, Arkansas near his childhood home.



Albert King, nacido Albert Nelson (25 de abril de 1923 - 21 de diciembre de 1992) fue un influyente guitarrista y cantante estadounidense de Blues.
Considerado uno de los Tres Reyes del Blues a la guitarra (junto a B.B.King y Freddie King), su altura de más de 1.90 metros y sus 118 kilos de peso le valieron el sobrenombre de The Velvet Bulldozer (la excavadora de terciopelo).
Nacido como Albert Nelson en una humilde familia de Indianola, Mississippi, en una plantación de algodón donde trabajó sus primeros años. Una de sus más tempranas influencias musicales fue su propio padre, Will Nelson, que tocaba la guitarra con asiduidad.
Durante su infancia cantó en un grupo familiar de gospel en la iglesia local.

Su primer trabajo como profesional comenzaría con el grupo In the Groove Boys, en Osceola, Arkansas. Durante un tiempo también tocó la batería para la banda de Jimmy Reed. Pero su instrumento fundamental iba a ser la guitarra eléctrica, y su preferida fue la Gibson Flying V, a la que llamó Lucy. El sello característico de Albert King fue su forma de coger la guitarra: como intérprete zurdo la usaba invertida, pero a diferencia de otros guitarristas zurdos como Jimi Hendrix o Tony Iommi, King jamás invirtió el orden del encordado, de modo que para él las cuerdas más agudas permanecen arriba.
Su primer éxito fue I´m a Lonely Man, aparecido en 1959. Pero no sería hasta 1961 cuando logró su primer gran éxito, con Don't Throw Your Love on Me So Strong, número catorce en las listas R&B. En 1966 firmó con la famosa discografía Stax y en 1967 apareció su legendario álbum Born Under A Bad Sign. La canción que dio el nombre al álbum (escrita por Booker T. Jones y William Bell) se convirtió en la canción más famosa de King y ha sido versionada por numerosos artistas (desde Cream hasta Homer Simpson). El 1 de febrero de 1968 King fue contratado por el promotor Bill Graham para una actuación en el Fillmore Auditorium en un concierto de varios artistas, entre los que estaba Jimi Hendrix. El concierto lo iniciaron los Soft Machine, teloneros de Hendrix durante varios conciertos de éste a principios de 1968. El público estaba impaciente por ver a King y a Hendrix y cuando Soft Machine empezaron a tocar, la gente empezó a gritar el nombre de Albert King. Eso provocó el enfado del promotor Graham, que salió al escenario y reprochó al público su falta de respeto hacia los artistas que tocaban en ese momento. Aquellos que asistieron al concierto relataron que King se adueñó del recital, ya que la gente esperaba la electricidad de Hendrix pero King se los puso en el bolsillo gracias a sus mágicos dedos después de tocar un par de baladas. Uno de los grandes momentos fue cuando fue capaz de sustituir una cuerda que se le había roto sin dejar de tocar. Cuando Hendrix salío al escenario lo primero que dijo fue: Ok, Albert King, he cogido la indirecta. Y se puso a tocar algunos de los acordes de King como homenaje.

King influyó a muchos guitarristas de blues como Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Mike Bloomfield, Gary Moore, y Stevie Ray Vaughan. El solo de guitarra de Eric Clapton en el éxito de Cream, Strange Brew ( del álbum Disraeli Gears) es una emulación del solo de King en su éxito con Stax, Oh, Pretty Woman.
En 1983 Albert King grabó junto a Stevie Ray Vaughan uno de los éxitos de ambos músicos In session. Unos años después Albert daría un concierto junto a BB King y otros artistas como Robert Cray, Etta James, Junior Wells. En 1988 Albert acudirá como invitado junto a Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, Gladys Knight, Paul Butterfield, Chaka Khan y Billy Ocean un especial BB King and Friends.
En 1988 Albert King y BB King Big brother of blues como llamaba BB king cariñosamente a Albert, actuaron juntos en el Japan Blues Carnival de 1989.
Una de las últimas contribuciones de King sería en 1990 con el guitarrista Gary Moore en el álbum Still Got the Blues, con una nueva versión de Oh, Pretty Woman. Esta contribución conllevó a que King apareciera como invitado en los conciertos de una gira europea de Moore, junto a Albert Collins.
King falleció de un ataque cardíaco el 21 de diciembre de 1992, en Memphis, Tennessee. Su nombre está incluido en el Paseo de la Fama de St. Louis.

Junior Wells

Junior Wells (December 9, 1934 – January 15, 1998), born Amos Wells Blakemore Jr., was a Chicago blues vocalist, harmonica player, and recording artist. Wells, who was best-known for his performances and recordings with Muddy Waters, Earl Hooker, and Buddy Guy, also performed with Bonnie Raitt, The Rolling Stones, and Van Morrison.
Junior Wells was possibly born in Memphis, Tennessee and raised in West Memphis, Arkansas, though other sources report his birth was in West Memphis. Initially taught by his cousin, Junior Parker, and Sonny Boy Williamson II, Wells learned how to play the harmonica by the age of seven with surprising skill. He moved to Chicago in 1948 with his mother after her divorce and began sitting in with local musicians at house parties and taverns. Wild and rebellious but needing an outlet for his talents, he began performing with The Aces (guitarist brothers Dave and Louis Myers and drummer Fred Below) and developed a more modern amplified harmonica style influenced by Little Walter. In 1952, he made his first recordings, when he replaced Little Walter in Muddy Waters' band and appeared on one of Waters' sessions for Chess Records in 1952.

His first recordings as a band leader were made in the following year for States Records. In the later 1950s and early 1960s he also recorded singles for Chief Records and its Profile Records subsidiary, including "Messin' with the Kid", "Come on in This House", and "It Hurts Me Too", which would remain in his repertoire throughout his career. His 1960 Profile single "Little by Little" (written by Chief owner and producer Mel London) reached #23 in the Billboard R&B chart, making it the first of two Wells' singles to enter the chart.
Junior Wells worked with guitarist Buddy Guy in the 1960s, and featured Guy on guitar when he recorded his first album, Hoodoo Man Blues for Delmark Records. Wells and Guy supported the Rolling Stones on numerous occasions in the 1970s. Although his albums South Side Blues Jam (1971) and On Tap (1975) proved he had not lost his aptitude for Chicago blues, his 1980s and 1990s discs were inconsistent.
However, 1996's Come On in This House was an intriguing set of classic blues songs with a rotating cast of slide guitarists, among them Alvin Youngblood Hart, Corey Harris, Sonny Landreth and Derek Trucks. Wells made an appearance in the film Blues Brothers 2000, the sequel to The Blues Brothers, which was released in 1998.
Wells continued performing until he was diagnosed with cancer in the summer of 1997. That fall, he suffered a heart attack while undergoing treatment, sending him into a coma. Wells died after succumbing to lymphoma on January 15, 1998 and was interred in the Oak Woods Cemetery, Chicago.



Junior Wells (9 de diciembre de 1934 - 15 de enero de 1998) fue un armonicista y cantante de blues estadounidense. Es conocido por su participación con Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, Magic Sam, Loonie Brooks y The Rolling Stones entre otros artistas importantes del género. Falleció luego de sufrir 4 meses con un linfoma a la edad de 63 años.

John Lee Hooker

 John Lee Hooker (August 22, 1917 – June 21, 2001) was an American blues singer-songwriter and guitarist, born near Clarksdale, Mississippi. Hooker began his life as the son of a sharecropper, William Hooker, and rose to prominence performing his own unique style of what was originally closest to Delta blues. He developed a 'talking blues' style that was his trademark. Though similar to the early Delta blues, his music was metrically free. John Lee Hooker could be said to embody his own unique genre of the blues, often incorporating the boogie-woogie piano style and a driving rhythm into his masterful and idiosyncratic blues guitar and singing. His best known songs include "Boogie Chillen'" (1948), "I'm in the Mood" (1951) and "Boom Boom" (1962), the first two reaching R&B #1 in the Billboard charts.
There is some debate as to the year of Hooker's birth in Coahoma County, Mississippi, the youngest of the eleven children of William Hooker (1871–1923), a sharecropper and Baptist preacher, and Minnie Ramsey (born 1875, date of death unknown); according to his official website, he was born on August 22, 1917.
Hooker and his siblings were home-schooled. They were permitted to listen only to religious songs, with his earliest exposure being the spirituals sung in church. In 1921, his parents separated. The next year, his mother married William Moore, a blues singer who provided Hooker with his first introduction to the guitar (and whom John would later credit for his distinctive playing style).

Hooker was also influenced by his stepfather, a local blues guitarist, who learned in Shreveport, Louisiana to play a droning, one-chord blues that was strikingly different from the Delta blues of the time. Around 1923 his natural father died. At the age of 15, John Lee Hooker ran away from home, reportedly never seeing his mother or stepfather again.
Throughout the 1930s, Hooker lived in Memphis, Tennessee where he worked on Beale Street at The Daisy Theatre and occasionally performed at house parties. He worked in factories in various cities during World War II, drifting until he found himself in Detroit in 1948 working at Ford Motor Company. He felt right at home near the blues venues and saloons on Hastings Street, the heart of black entertainment on Detroit's east side. In a city noted for its pianists, guitar players were scarce. Performing in Detroit clubs, his popularity grew quickly and, seeking a louder instrument than his crude acoustic guitar, he bought his first electric guitar.
Hooker's recording career began in 1948 when his agent placed a demo, made by Hooker, with the Bihari brothers, owners of the Modern Records label. The company initially released an up-tempo number, "Boogie Chillen'", which became Hooker's first hit single. Though they were not songwriters, the Biharis often purchased or claimed co-authorship of songs that appeared on their labels, thus securing songwriting royalties for themselves, in addition to their own streams of income.

Sometimes these songs were older tunes which Hooker renamed, as with B.B. King's "Rock Me Baby", anonymous jams "B.B.'s Boogie" or songs by employees (bandleader Vince Weaver). The Biharis used a number of pseudonyms for songwriting credits: Jules was credited as Jules Taub; Joe as Joe Josea; and Sam as Sam Ling. One song by John Lee Hooker, "Down Child" is solely credited to "Taub", with Hooker receiving no credit for the song whatsoever. Another, "Turn Over a New Leaf" is credited to Hooker and "Ling".
Despite being illiterate, Hooker was a prolific lyricist. In addition to adapting the occasionally traditional blues lyric (such as "if I was chief of police, I would run her right out of town"), he freely invented many of his songs from scratch. Recording studios in the 1950s rarely paid black musicians more than a pittance, so Hooker would spend the night wandering from studio to studio, coming up with new songs or variations on his songs for each studio. Because of his recording contract, he would record these songs under obvious pseudonyms such as John Lee Booker, notably for Chess Records and Chance Records in 1951/52, as Johnny Lee for De Luxe Records in 1953/54[11] as John Lee, and even John Lee Cooker, or as Texas Slim, Delta John, Birmingham Sam and his Magic Guitar, Johnny Williams, or The Boogie Man.

His early solo songs were recorded under Bernie Besman. John Lee Hooker rarely played on a standard beat, changing tempo to fit the needs of the song. This often made it difficult to use backing musicians who were not accustomed to Hooker's musical vagaries. As a result, Besman would record Hooker, in addition to playing guitar and singing, stomping along with the music on a wooden pallet. For much of this time period he recorded and toured with Eddie Kirkland, who was still performing as of 2008. Later sessions for the VeeJay label in Chicago used studio musicians on most of his recordings, including Eddie Taylor, who could handle his musical idiosyncrasies very well. His biggest UK hit, "Boom Boom", (originally released on VeeJay) was recorded with a horn section.
He appeared and sang in the 1980 movie The Blues Brothers. Due to Hooker's improvisational style, his performance was filmed and sound-recorded live at the scene at Chicago's Maxwell Street Market, in contrast to the usual "playback" technique used in most film musicals. Hooker was also a direct influence in the look of John Belushi's character Jake Blues.

In 1989, he joined with a number of musicians, including Carlos Santana and Bonnie Raitt to record The Healer, for which he and Santana won a Grammy Award. Hooker recorded several songs with Van Morrison, including "Never Get Out of These Blues Alive", "The Healing Game" and "I Cover the Waterfront". He also appeared on stage with Van Morrison several times, some of which was released on the live album A Night in San Francisco. The same year he appeared as the title character on Pete Townshend's The Iron Man: A Musical.
Hooker recorded over 100 albums. He lived the last years of his life in Long Beach, California. In 1997, he opened a nightclub in San Francisco's Fillmore District called "John Lee Hooker's Boom Boom Room", after one of his hits.
He fell ill just before a tour of Europe in 2001 and died on June 21 at the age of 83, a month shy of his 84th birthday. His last live in the studio recording on guitar and vocal was of a song he wrote with Pete Sears called "Elizebeth", featuring members of his "Coast to Coast Blues Band" with Sears on piano. It was recorded on January 14, 1998 at Bayview Studios in Richmond, California. The last song Hooker recorded before his death was "Ali D'Oro", a collaboration with the Italian soul singer Zucchero, in which Hooker sang the chorus "I lay down with an angel". He was survived by eight children, nineteen grandchildren, eighteen great-grandchildren, a nephew, and fiance Sidora Dazi. One of his children is the musician John Lee Hooker, Jr.

Among his many awards, Hooker has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and in 1991 he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Two of his songs, "Boogie Chillen" and "Boom Boom" were included in the list of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. "Boogie Chillen" was included as one of the Songs of the Century. He was also inducted in 1980 into the Blues Hall of Fame. In 2000, Hooker was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.



John Lee Hooker (Clarksdale, Misisipi, 22 de agosto de 1917 - San Francisco, 21 de junio de 2001) fue un influyente cantante y guitarrista de blues estadounidense.
Nació en una granja cerca de Clarksdale (Misisipi) del matrimonio formado por William Hooker y Minnie Ramsey. Su padre era aparcero y pastor de la iglesia bautista. Tuvo seis hermanos y cuatro hermanas.
Siendo niño, su familia se trasladó a otra granja en una plantación bananera cercana, donde conoció a los bluesman Snooky Pryor y Jimmy Rogers. En 1928 sus padres se separaron y John fue el único hermano que quedó al cuidado de su madre.
Su madre se volvió a casar, esta vez con el músico local de blues William Moore, que enseñó a John a tocar la guitarra cuando tenía trece años. Hooker relató posteriormente que gracias a él conoció, de pequeño, a leyendas como Blind Lemon Jefferson o Charlie Patton, que iban de visita a su casa.

En 1931 decide emigrar hacia el norte industrial, al igual que hacían muchos otros negros del sur en aquella época. Primero recaló en Memphis, donde vivió en casa de una tía, trabajó en cines locales y tocó con Robert Lockwood. En 1935 se trasladó a Cincinnati, donde alternaba trabajos de limpiabotas o de acomodador en teatros con actuaciones en grupos de gospel. Después de un período en el ejército, se instaló en Detroit durante la II Guerra Mundial, en 1943, donde consigue un empleo en la industria del automóvil, cuyo sueldo consigue completar cantando en bares de suburbios. Allí se casó dos veces. Con su segunda mujer, Maude Mathis, tuvo seis hijos.

viernes, 5 de agosto de 2011

Big Eye Nelson

Louis "Big Eye" Nelson was a jazz clarinetist traditionalAmerican, born in New Orleans (Louisiana), the January 28, 1885, and died in the same city, August 20, 1949.
Also played the [accordion]], bass and guitar, but after taking classes from Lorenzo Tio, from 1904, focused on the clarinet. He played in some of the most important bands in New Orleans, as the Imperial Band (1905), the Eagle Band (1912) and others, before joining the Original Creole Orchestra Freddie Keppard in 1916. A year later, left the band and returned to New Orleans,where he played with John Robechaux between 1918 and 1924and then incorporated into other bands.
In full revival style, in 1940, will lead his own band and play with trumpeter Henry Kid Rena.






Louis "Big Eye" Nelson fue un clarinetista norteamericano de jazz tradicional, nacido en Nueva Orleans (Luisiana), el 28 de enero de 1885, y fallecido en la misma ciudad, el 20 de agosto de 1949.
Tocaba también el [àcordeón]], el contrabajo y la guitarra, aunque tras recibir clases de Lorenzo Tio, a partir de 1904, se centró en el clarinete. Tocó en algunas de las más importantes bandas de Nueva Orleans, como la Imperial Band (1905), la Eagle Band (1912) y otras, antes de entrar a formar parte de la Original Creole Orchestra de Freddie Keppard, en 1916. Un año después, deja la banda y regresa a Nueva Orleans, donde toca con John Robechaux, entre 1918 y 1924, incorporándose después a otras bandas.
En pleno revival del estilo, en los años 1940, dirigirá su propia banda y tocará con el trompetista Henry Kid Rena.

Little Brother Montgomery

Eurreal Wilford "Little Brother" Montgomery (April 18, 1906 – September 6, 1985) was a jazz and blues pianist and singer.
Largely self-taught, Montgomery is often thought of as just a blues pianist, but he was an important blues pianist with an original style. He was also quite versatile, however, and worked in jazz bands including larger ensembles that used written arrangements. Although he did not read music, he learned band routines by ear, once through an arrangement and he had it memorized. He was a singer with an immediately recognizable, rather affecting wobble: an oral historian as full of musical anecdotes as Jelly Roll Morton.
Montgomery was born in the town of Kentwood, Louisiana, a sawmill town near the Mississippi Border, across Lake Pontchartrain from the city of New Orleans, where he spent much of his childhood. As a child he looked like his father, Harper Montgomery, and was called Little Brother Harper. The name evolved into Little Brother Montgomery, a nickname which stuck. He started playing piano at the age of 4, and by age 11 he was playing at various barrelhouses in Louisiana. His own musical influences were Jelly Roll Morton who used visit the Montgomery household.
Early on he played at African American lumber and turpentine camps in Louisiana and Mississippi, then with the bands of Clarence Desdunes and Buddy Petit. He first went to Chicago from 1928 to 1931, where he made his first recordings. From 1931 through 1938 he led a band in Jackson.

In 1942 Montgomery moved back to Chicago, which would be his base for the rest of his life, with various tours to other United States cities and Europe. His repertoire alternated between blues and traditional jazz (he played Carnegie Hall with Kid Ory's Dixieland band in 1949). In the late 1950s he was "discovered" by wider white audiences. He toured briefly with Otis Rush in 1956. His fame grew in the 1960s, and he continued to make many recordings, including on his own record label, FM Records (formed in 1969). FM came from Floberg, his wife Jan's maiden name and Montgomery, his own surname.
These and other recordings added momentum to Montgomery’s career and he became a world traveller, visiting the UK and Europe on several occasions during the 1960s, cutting several of his 20-odd albums there, while remaining based in Chicago. Montgomery appeared at many blues and folk festivals during the following decade and was considered a living legend, a link to the early days of blues and New Orleans.
Among his original compositions are "Shreveport Farewell", "Farrish Street Jive", and "Vicksburg Blues".
In 1968, Montgomery contributed to two albums by popular vocal pop group Spanky and Our Gang. The two albums were "Like To Get To Know You" and "Anything You Choose b/w Without Rhyme Or Reason".
Montgomery died on September 6, 1985, in Champaign, Illinois, and is interred in the Oak Woods Cemetery.


Eurreal Wilford "Little Brother" Montgomery (18 abril 1906 a 6 septiembre 1985) fue un pianista de jazz y blues y cantante.En gran parte autodidacta, Montgomery es a menudo considerado como un simple pianista de blues, pero era un pianista de blues importante con un estilo original. También era muy versátil, sin embargo, y trabajó en bandas de jazz como conjuntos más grandes que utilizan los acuerdos por escrito.Aunque él no leía música, aprendió las rutinas de la banda por el oído, una vez que a través de un acuerdo y que había aprendido de memoria. Era un cantante con una reconocible al instante, y no afectan a tambalearse: un historiador oral como llena de anécdotas musicales como Jelly Roll Morton.
Montgomery nació en la ciudad de Kentwood, Louisiana, un pueblo aserradero cerca de la frontera de Mississippi, a través del lago Pontchartrain de la ciudad de Nueva Orleans, donde pasó gran parte de su infancia. Cuando era niño se parecía a su padre, Harper Montgomery, y fue llamado Harper hermanito. El nombre se convirtió en Little Brother Montgomery, un apodo que se pegó. Empezó a tocar el piano a la edad de 4 años, y los 11 años que estaba jugando en diferentes barrelhouses en Louisiana. Sus influencias musicales son propios de Jelly Roll Morton, que utiliza visitar la casa de Montgomery.


Al principio él jugó en madera afro-americanos y los campos de trementina en Louisiana y Mississippi, y luego con las bandas de Clarence Desdunes y Petit Buddy. Primero fue a Chicago desde 1928 hasta 1931, donde hizo sus primeras grabaciones.De 1931 a 1938 dirigió una banda de Jackson.En 1942, Montgomery se trasladó a Chicago, lo que sería su base para el resto de su vida, con varias excursiones a otras ciudades de Estados Unidos y Europa. Su repertorio se alternan entre el blues y el jazz tradicional (tocó el Carnegie Hall con la banda de Kid Ory Dixieland en 1949).  A finales de 1950 fue "descubierta" por un público más amplio blanco. Él viajó brevemente con Otis Rush en 1956.  Su fama creció en la década de 1960, y continuó con sus numerosas grabaciones, incluyendo en su propio sello discográfico, FM Records (creada en 1969). FM vino de Floberg, nombre de soltera de su esposa Jan y Montgomery, su propio apellido.
Grabaciones de estos y otros impulsaron a la carrera de Montgomery, y se convirtió en un viajero del mundo, visitar el Reino Unido y Europa en varias ocasiones durante la década de 1960, el corte de varios de sus 20 y tantos discos que, sin dejar de ser sede en Chicago. Montgomery se presentó enmuchos azules y fiestas populares durante la década siguiente y fue considerado una leyenda viva, un enlace a los primeros días de blues y de Nueva Orleans.Entre sus composiciones originales son "Shreveport Adiós", "Jive Farrish la calle", y "Blues Vicksburg".En 1968, Montgomery participó en dos álbumes por el popular grupo de pop vocal Spanky y nuestra pandilla. Los dos álbumes fueron "Al igual que para llegar a conocerte" y "Todo lo que usted elige b / w sin ton ni son".Montgomery falleció el 6 de septiembre de 1985, en Champaign, Illinois, y es enterrado en el cementerio Oak Woods.

Lead Belly

Huddie William Ledbetter (January 20, 1888 – December 6, 1949) was an iconic American folk and blues musician, notable for his strong vocals, his virtuosity on the twelve-string guitar, and the songbook of folk standards he introduced.
He is best known as Lead Belly. Though many releases list him as "Leadbelly", he himself spelled it "Lead Belly". This is also the usage on his tombstone, as well as of the Lead Belly Foundation.
Although Lead Belly most commonly played the twelve-string, he could also play the piano, mandolin, harmonica, violin, concertina, and accordion. In some of his recordings, such as in one of his versions of the folk ballad "John Hardy", he performs on the accordion instead of the guitar. In other recordings he just sings while clapping his hands or stomping his foot.

The topics of Lead Belly's music covered a wide range of subjects, including gospel songs; blues songs about women, liquor and racism; and folk songs about cowboys, prison, work, sailors, cattle herding, and dancing. He also wrote songs concerning the newsmakers of the day, such as Franklin D. Roosevelt, Adolf Hitler, Jean Harlow, the Scottsboro Boys, and Howard Hughes.
In 2008, Lead Belly was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.
Born Huddie William Ledbetter on the Jeter Plantation near Mooringsport, Louisiana, the younger of two children to Sallie Brown and Wesley Ledbetter. He had an older sister named Australia. Huddie is pronounced HYEW-dee or HUGH-dee.
Ledbetter was probably born in January 1888, though his grave marker lists his birth date as January 23, 1889. The 1900 United States Census lists "Hudy William Ledbetter" as 12 years old, and his birth date as January 20, 1888. The 1910 United States Census and the 1930 United States Census also list his birth date as January 20, 1888. In April 1942, Ledbetter filled out his World War II draft registration, listing his birth date as January 23, 1889.
His parents married on February 26, 1888, but had actually cohabitated for several years.
When Ledbetter was five years old, the family settled in Bowie County, Texas.
By 1903, Lead Belly was already a "musicianer",[cite this quote] a singer and guitarist of some note. He performed for nearby Shreveport audiences in St. Paul's Bottoms, a notorious red-light district there. Lead Belly began to develop his own style of music after exposure to a variety of musical influences on Shreveport's Fannin Street, a row of saloons, brothels, and dance halls in the Bottoms.

At the time of the 1910 census, Lead Belly, still officially listed as "Hudy", was living next door to his parents with his first wife, Aletha "Lethe" Henderson, who at the time of the census was 17 years old, and was, therefore, 15 at the time of their marriage in 1908. It was also there that he received his first instrument, an accordion, from his uncle, and by his early 20s, after fathering at least two children, he left home to find his living as a guitarist (and occasionally as a laborer).
Influenced by the sinking of the RMS Titanic in April 1912, he wrote the song "The Titanic", which noted the racial differences of the time. "The Titanic" was the first song he ever learned to play on a 12-string guitar, which was later to become his signature instrument. He first played it in 1912 when performing with Blind Lemon Jefferson (1897–1929) in and around Dallas, Texas. The song is about champion African-American boxer Jack Johnson being denied passage on the Titanic due to his race (in point of fact, although Johnson was denied passage on a ship for being black, it was not the Titanic),[citation needed] with the iconic line, "Jack Johnson tried to get on board. The Captain, he says, 'I ain't haulin' no coal!' Fare thee, Titanic! Fare thee well!" Lead Belly noted that he had to leave out this verse when playing in front of white audiences.
By the time Lead Belly was released from prison, the United States was deep in the Great Depression and jobs were very scarce. In September 1934, in need of regular work in order to avoid having his release canceled, Lead Belly met with John A. Lomax and asked him to take him on as a driver. For three months he assisted the 67-year-old John Lomax in his folk song collecting in the South. (Alan Lomax was ill and didn't accompany them on this trip.)

In December, Lead Belly participated in a "smoker" (group sing) at an MLA meeting in Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, where John A. Lomax had a prior lecturing engagement. He was written up in the press as a convict who had sung his way out of prison. On New Year's Day, 1935, the pair arrived in New York City, where John Lomax was scheduled to meet with his publisher, Macmillan, about a new collection of folk songs. The newspapers were eager to write about the "singing convict" and Time magazine made one of its first filmed March of Time newsreels about him. Lead Belly attained fame (though not fortune).
The following week, he began recording with ARC, the race records division of Columbia Records, but these recordings achieved little commercial success. Part of the reason for the poor sales may have been because ARC insisted on releasing only his blues songs rather than the folk songs for which he would later become better known. In any case, Lead Belly continued to struggle financially. Like many performers, what income he made during his lifetime would come from touring, not from record sales.
In February 1935, he married his girlfriend, Martha Promise, who came north from Louisiana to join him.
The month of February was spent recording his and other African-American repertoire and interviews about his life with Alan Lomax for their forthcoming book, Negro Folk Songs as Sung by Lead Belly (1936). Concert appearances were slow to materialize, however, and in March 1935, Lead Belly accompanied John A. Lomax on a two-week lecture tour of colleges and universities in the Northeast, culminating at Harvard. These lectures had been scheduled before John Lomax had teamed up with Lead Belly.
At the end of the month, John Lomax decided he could no longer work with Lead Belly and gave him and Martha money to go back to Louisiana by bus. He gave Martha the money that Lead Belly had earned from three months of performing, but in installments, on the pretext that Lead Belly would drink it all if given a lump sum. From Louisiana, Lead Belly then successfully sued Lomax for the full amount and for release from his management contract with Lomax. The quarrel was very bitter and there were hard feelings on both sides. Curiously, however, in the midst of the legal wrangling Lead Belly wrote to John A. Lomax proposing that they team up together once again. It was not to be, however. The book about Lead Belly that the Lomaxes published in the fall of the following year, meanwhile, was a commercial failure.

In January 1936, Lead Belly returned to New York on his own without John Lomax for an attempted comeback. He performed twice a day at Harlem's Apollo theater during the Easter season in a live dramatic recreation of the Time Life newsreel (itself a recreation) about his prison encounter with John A. Lomax, in which he had worn stripes, even though by this time he was no longer associated with Lomax.
Life magazine ran a three-page article titled, "Lead Belly - Bad Nigger Makes Good Minstrel," in the April 19, 1937 issue. It included a full-page, color (rare in those days) picture of him sitting on grain sacks playing his guitar and singing.[12] Also included was a striking picture of Martha Promise (identified in the article as his manager); photos showing Lead Belly's hands playing the guitar (with the caption "these hands once killed a man"); Texas Governor Pat M. Neff; and the "ramshackle" Texas State Penitentiary. The article attributes both of his pardons to his singing of his petitions to the governors, who were so moved that they pardoned him. The article's text ends with "he... may well be on the brink of a new and prosperous period."

Lead Belly failed to stir the enthusiasm of Harlem audiences. Instead, he attained success playing at concerts and benefits for an audience of leftist folk music aficionados. He developed his own style of singing and explaining his repertoire in the context of Southern black culture, taking the hint from his previous participation in John A. Lomax's college lectures. He was especially successful with his repertoire of children's game songs (as a younger man in Louisiana he had sung regularly at children's birthday parties in the black community). He was written up as a heroic figure by the black novelist, Richard Wright, then a member of the Communist Party, in the columns of the Daily Worker, of which Wright was the Harlem editor. The two men became personal friends, though Lead Belly himself was apolitical — if anything, a supporter of Wendell Willkie, the centrist Republican candidate, for whom he wrote a campaign song.
In 1939, Lead Belly was back in jail for assault, after stabbing a man in a fight in Manhattan. Alan Lomax, then 24, took him under his wing and helped raise money for his legal expenses, dropping out of graduate school to do so. After his release (in 1940-41), Lead Belly appeared as a regular on Alan Lomax and Nicholas Ray's groundbreaking CBS radio show, Back Where I Come From, broadcast nationwide. He also appeared in night clubs with Josh White, becoming a fixture in New York City's surging folk music scene and befriending the likes of Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee, Woody Guthrie, and a young Pete Seeger, all fellow performers on Back Where I Come From. During the first half of the decade he recorded for RCA, the Library of Congress, and for Moe Asch (future founder of Folkways Records), and in 1944 headed to California, where he recorded strong sessions for Capitol Records. Lead Belly was the first American country blues musician to see success in Europe.
In 1949 Lead Belly had a regular radio broadcast on station WNYC in New York on Sunday nights on Henrietta Yurchenko's show. Later in the year he began his first European tour with a trip to France, but fell ill before its completion, and was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease.[7] His final concert was at the University of Texas in a tribute to his former mentor, John A. Lomax, who had died the previous year. Martha also performed at that concert, singing spirituals with her husband.
Lead Belly died later that year in New York City, and was buried in the Shiloh Baptist Church cemetery in Mooringsport, 8 miles (13 km) west of Blanchard, in Caddo Parish. He is honored with a life-size statue across from the Caddo Parish Courthouse in Shreveport.