Legendary Badass Bluesmen

30.08.2010 Misc Music #Vintage

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The Selvedge Yard hat eine sehr schönes Posting mit „Legendary Badass Bluesmen“. Das da oben ist Huddie William „Lead Belly“ Ledbetter, einer der ersten überhaupt, die den Blues spielten und sein Lebenslauf ist wahrlich superbadass. Über den Kram habe ich mal ein Referat gehalten, ist lange her, hat mir damals mit 15 (oder so) einige Augen und Ohren geöffnet.

Huddie Ledbetter fiercely considered himself the world’s greatest cotton picker, railroad track liner, lover, and drinker as well as guitar player. Since not everyone agreed with his opinion, Huddie frequently found himself obliged to convince them — which frequently landed him in jail. In 1916, Huddie was in a Texas jail on assault charges when he escaped. He spent the next two years under the alias of Walter Boyd. But then after he killed a man in a fight he was convicted of murder and sentenced to thirty years of hard labor at Huntsville, Texas’ Shaw State Prison Farm. After seven years he was released after begging pardon from the Governor Pat Neff with a song he wrote — Huddie left Huntsville a free man. But in 1930 he was arrested, tried, and convicted of attempted homicide.

It was in the Louisiana State Penitentiary in 1933 that Huddie met folklorist John Lomax, and his son Alan, who were touring the South for the Library of Congress collecting unwritten ballads and folk songs using the latest recording equipment. The Lomaxes had discovered that Southern prisons were among the best places to collect work songs, ballads, and spirituals but Leadbelly, as he now called himself, was a particular find. Over the next few days the Lomaxes recorded hundreds of songs. When they returned in the summer of ’34 for more recordings, Leadbelly told them of how he won his pardon in Texas. As Allen Lomax tells it, “We agreed to make a record of his petition on the other side of one of his favorite ballads, ‘Goodnight Irene’. I took the record to Governor Allen on July 1st. On August 1st Leadbelly got his pardon. On September 1st, I was sitting in a hotel in Texas when I felt a tap on my shoulder. I looked up and there was Leadbelly with his guitar, his knife, and a sugar bag packed with all his earthly belongings. He said, ‘Boss, you got me out of jail and now I’ve come to be your man.’”