9.12.2011

honeyboy edwards, 1915-2011

Honeyboy Edwards died two weeks ago, just shy of his 96th birthday. He was the last survivor of the first generation of Delta bluesmen.

Born David Edwards to parents who were sharecroppers on a cotton plantation, for nearly 80 years Honeyboy played his "intricate fingerpicking and slashing bottleneck-slide guitar" with a long list of blues greats, including Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf, and earlier, the legendary Delta bluesmen Charley Patton and Robert Johnson. Edwards was the last known link to Robert Johnson, King of the Delta Blues, and is said to have been present at Johnson's death.

Edwards was recorded by Alan Lomax in Clarksdale, Mississippi in 1942; those Library of Congress recordings are the only record of his earlier work. In 2008, Edwards was still playing 100 shows a year, and on August 29, 2011, the day he died, was scheduled to perform in Chicago.

A very nice obituary from The New York Times is here.