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Sonoma County Gazette
These artists are the stuff of legends.
These artists are the stuff of legends.

Blues Legends who Persevered

Apr 21, 2020
by Robert Feuer


Honeyboy Edwards Playing on a street corner in 1942. Screenshot the years following World War II, the streets of most cities were alive with clubs attracting blues musicians and their fans from all over. Nearby train tracks were often the conduit for spreading the word, carrying with them new artists, and railroad workers with magical recordings.

Most of the people who played those songs and bought those records are gone now, taking with them a backstreet history of an old world where music still rises from the dust.

Traditional blues music cuts deeply into our culture. Born on plantations, back roads, freight trains, and the honky-tonk streets of Memphis and Chicago, it's the song of the night, of the mean streets where men and women went to express their joy and pain. 

Pianist Pinetop Perkins in Paris, France, 7 November 1976. Image Author:Lioneldecoster - creativecommons CC BY 3.0These days such artists are given awards and plaques, belatedly, often posthumously. But the histories of traditional blues artists are largely tales of great suffering. Most died early, brought down by the struggle to feed themselves and their families, or the hard life of the road and its easy temptations. Their money, stolen from them by promoters, producers, and record company hacks will never be returned. 

The few who remain have become incongruous in the dizzying rush of current events. In today's atmosphere of often antiseptic political correctness there is no longer a place for their smoky, brawling world, where definitions of manhood and womanhood were so different from popular notions of today. So be it.   


But these people are the stuff of legends, though the location of their graves is often unknown.

ADENDDUM by Ceylan Crow with permission from Robert Feuer: Perkin, Smith and Edwards persevered to our age and time with accolades and success and we can  at least find out where they are buried.

Pinetop Perkins, Willie "Big Eyes" Smith, and David "Honeyboy" Edwards their stories and music

Many blues artists were unacknowledged and these three were so for a long time but they did make their way to the top of the blues world by their later years and turns out they all 3 received recently as 2011. 

A survivor with amazing talentPinetop Perkins

A little a bout the artist:
NPR Honors Pinetop Perkins

Some of his music:

Pinetop Perkins - Blues Piano Legend - "Pinetop's Blues"

Pinetop Perkins -   More Blues


David Honeyboy Edwards

A little a bout the artist: 
NY Times -David Honeyboy Edwards dies at 95

Some of his music:

David Honeyboy Edwards 1942      Playing on the street corner in 1942

David "Honeyboy" Edwards -    Concert

Willie Willie "Big Eyes" Smith

A little a bout the artist: 
Modern Drummer "IN MEMORIAM"

Some of his music:

Willie "Big Eyes" Smith:    In Concert


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