Blues great and Grammy winner, David “Honeyboy” Edwards passed away on August 29 of heart failure. He was 96. He was a friend of, and played with legendary Robert Johnson and was with him the night he died. His story of that night became the definitive version of what happened. He describes his life as blues performer in this quote from “Deep Blues” by Robert Palmer.
“On Saturday, somebody like me or Robert Johnson would go into one of these little towns, play for nickels and dimes. And sometimes, you know, you could be playin’ and have such a big crowd that it would block the whole street. Then the police would come around, and then I’d go to another town and where I could play at. But most of the time, they would let you play. Then sometimes the man who owned a country store would give us something like a couple of dollars to play on a Saturday afternoon. We could hitchhike, transfer from truck to truck, or if we couldn’t catch one of them, we’d go to the train yard, ’cause the railroad was all through that part of the country then…we might hop a freight, go to St Louis or Chicago. Or we might hear about where a job was paying off – a highway crew, a railroad job, a levee camp there along the river, or some place in the country where a lot of people were workin’ on a farm. You could go there and play and everybody would hand you some money. I didn’t have a special place then. Anywhere was home. Where I do good, I stay. When it gets bad and dull, I’m gone.”
Edwards was still touring well into his 90’s, actually only retiring in July of 2011. A chapter in Blues history just closed.
The first video is his classic “Gambling Man”, the second is live 2009 (he was 94) version of Sweet Home Chicago).
- Blues great David “Honeyboy” Edwards dead at 96 (chicagoreader.com)
- David ‘Honeyboy’ Edwards, Legendary Delta Bluesman, Dead at 96 (spinner.com)
- David “Honeyboy” Edwards, last to play the blues with Robert Johnson, dies at 96 (cbsnews.com)