This Week in Blues Past: Freddie King, Stevie Ray, Jimmy Reed, more

There's a lot that happened this week in the blues... here's the top ten, with one of the biggest tragedies in music, landmark album releases and more!

Freddie King's "Hideaway" vinyl on Federal Records1. Willy DeVille

August 25th, 1950: Basque, Irish and Pequot Native, Willy DeVille was born William Paul Borsey Jr. in Stamford, Connecticut. Influenced on guitar by Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker and John Hammond, DeVille also had a voice as powerful as Joe Cocker. His band Mink DeVille was one of the original house bands at CBGB, where Punk was born. He went on through his career experimenting with different styles and influences working with artists as varied as Jack Nitzsche, Doc Pomus, Dr. John, Mark Knopfler, Allen Toussaint, Earl King, Los Lobos and Eddie Bo. DeVille died of pancreatic cancer on August 6th, 2009.

2. JOB Records

August 26th, 1949: St. Louis Jimmy Oden, Sunnyland Slim, Willie Mabon, and Jimmy Rogers held a recording session for JOB Records at United Broadcasting Studios in Chicago, Illinois. JOB was founded that year by Oden and businessman Joe Brown. Although Oden left the company within a year, some of the earliest artists released by JOB also included Snooky Pryor, J.B. Lenoir and Johnny Shines. The label’s first hit came in 1952 when they released the single, “Five Long Years” by Eddie Boyd.

3. Freddie King – Hideaway

August 26th, 1960: Freddie King recorded his debut single, “Hide Away” for Federal Records at the King Records Studio in Cincinnati, Ohio. Credited to King and Sonny Thompson, the guitar instrumental, “Hide Away”, itself, had deep roots. The song originated as “Taylor’s Boogie” by Hound Dog Taylor, then was adapted as “Hideaway” by Magic Sam while playing at Mel’s Hideaway Lounge in Chicago. King’s version has breaks influenced by Robert Jr. Lockwood and Jimmy McCracklin as well as parts of “The Peter Gunn Theme”. “Hide Away” spent nineteen weeks on the Billboard R&B chart where it reached #5. The song also reached #29 in the Billboard Hot 100, making it one of the highest showings in the pop chart by a blues artist. It was later successfully covered by John Mayall’s Blues Breakers, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, King Curtis, Jeff Healey and Johnny Winter. It has been included in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, The Grammy Hall of Fame and was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame Classics of Blues Recordings in 2007.

4. Diamond Teeth Mary

August 27th, 1902: “Diamond Teeth” Mary McLain was born Mary Smith in Huntington, West Virginia. McClain was the half-sister of Blues great Bessie Smith and ran away with the circus as a chorus girl at age 13. In a career that spanned over 80 years, McClain performed at some of the biggest venues of the time, was present in Clarksdale, Mississippi when her sister Bessie died and was responsible for the careers of Blues legends Johnny Copeland, John Lee Hooker and Big Mama Thornton. It is said that for a time she lived with baseball great Satchel Paige and that a young Elvis Presley would fetch liquor from the cabinet for her and Howlin’ Wolf.

5. Stevie Ray Vaughan

August 27th, 1990: At approximately 1:00 am a Bell 206B Jet Ranger helicopter crashed into a ski hill in dense fog shortly after take off from East Troy, Wisconsin killing everyone on board, including Texas guitar virtuoso, Stevie Ray Vaughan. Vaughan had just concluded a two night concert performance at the Alpine Valley Music Theater where his band, Double Trouble, were the opening act for Eric Clapton. His last performance was “Sweet Home Chicago” which he performed with Clapton, Buddy Guy, Robert Cray and his brother Jimmie Vaughan as the finale of Clapton’s set. The previous morning, Vaughan told his band and crew members about a horrible nightmare in which he was at his own funeral and saw thousands of mourners. He felt “terrified, yet almost peaceful.”

6. Jimmy Reed

August 29th, 1976: Electric Blues guitarist and songwriter, Mathis James “Jimmy” Reed died of respiratory failure in Oakland, California at the age of 50. Responsible for such hits as “Big Boss Man” “Ain’t That Lovin You Baby”, “Baby What You Want Me To Do” and “Bright Lights, Big City”, Reed was a major influence on Elvis Presley, Billy Gibbons and The Rolling Stones. An inductee into both the Blues Hall of Fame and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Reed’s songs have been covered by The Yardbirds, Van Morrison, Grateful Dead, Wishbone Ash, Jimmie Vaughan, Omar Kent Dykes and even Bill Cosby.

7. David “Honeyboy” Edwards

August 29th, 2011: Grammy Award winner, Blues Hall of Fame inductee and “last of the great Delta bluesmen” David “Honeyboy” Edwards died of congestive heart failure in Chicago, Illinois at the age of 96. A Blues guitarist who left home at 14 to travel with Big Joe Williams, Edwards performed with other legends throughout his career including Pinetop Perkins, Charley Patton, Tommy Johnson, Robert Jr. Lockwood and Johnny Shines. He was a close, personal friend of Robert Johnson and was present, along with Sonny Boy Williamson, the night Johnson was poisoned at a gig outside Greenwood, Mississippi.

8. Original Chicago Blues Festival

August 30th, 1969: Fifteen years before the first official Chicago Blues Festival, Willie Dixon hosted an event called Bringing the Blues Back Home at the Grant Park Band Shell on 11th St. in Chicago. It was a 10 hour show, emceed by DJ Big Bill Hill from WOPA radio and included performances by Luther Allison, Fred Below, Jimmy Dawkins, Bo Diddley, Sleepy John Estes, Buddy Guy, Homesick James, John Lee Hooker, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Big Walter Horton, Sam Lay, Lafayette Leake, Johnny Littlejohn, Robert Jr. Lockwood, Little Milton, Little Brother Montgomery, Otis Spann, Hound Dog Taylor, Koko Taylor, Big Mama Thornton, Junior Wells, Johnny Young and Mighty Joe Young. The concert ended with Muddy Waters performing “Got My Mojo Workin'”. It is also notable that 18 year old Billy Branch was in the audience for this show and six years later went on to play with the Chicago Blues All Stars replacing Carey Bell on harmonica.

9. Blue Monday with Larry Monroe

August 30th, 2010: Austin, Texas radio legend Larry Monroe broadcast his final show of Blue Monday on KUT Radio. His special guest on the show was James Cotton. He had spent 29 years on the air with KUT, winning the Keeping The Blues Alive award from the Blues Foundation in 2002. The show, Blue Monday, did find new life on KDRP radio in Dripping Springs, Texas until Monroe’s death in 2014.

10. Son Bonds

August 31st, 1947: Guitarist, singer, songwriter and working associate of Sleepy John Estes and Hammie Nixon, Son Bonds was accidentally shot to death on the front porch of his house in Dyersburg, Tennessee at the age of 38. It seems a near-sighted neighbor mistook Bonds for someone else with whom he had a disagreement. Bonds was also famous for the song “Back and Side Blues”, which he wrote in 1934 and became a Blues Standard when Sonny Boy Williamson used the melody for his “Good Morning Little School Girl”. Other well known songs by Bonds include “”A Hard Pill To Swallow” and “Come Back Home”.


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