Charley Patton, born between 1887 and 1894, maybe, and passed away on April 28, 1934, definitely. Charley was a delta blues player, and some credit him with creating Delta Blues. It is said that he may be the most important American musician of the 20th century. With this great lead up, it is time to explore his life and music.
There are many mysteries surrounding Charley. His birth-date, his name (some spell it Charlie), and even his race. He may have been the son of a slave, or he may have been Mexican or possibly a Cherokee Native-American. Interestingly, the slave named as a potential father was Henderson Chatmon, the father of many of the Mississippi Sheiks. The genetics are there for sure. He was friends with, and influence a very young Howlin’ Wolf. John Lee Hooker also spent some time with Charley and was influenced by his blues style. Even Robert Johnson spent time listening and learning from Patton.
He died in 1934 of a heart attack. He was buried in Holly Ridge, Mississippi. In 1990, John Fogarty purchased and had placed a headstone for his grave. Now the music.
First up is Pony Blues. Terrific song. You can hear lots of different groups buried in the tapestry of this song.
Next up we have another masterpiece, one that covers everything we detest in life.
Revenue Man Blues
A final tune, this by John Lee Hooker with Canned Heat, inspired by Charley’s Peavine Blues. Awesome.
William McTier was born in 1898 in Thomson, Georgia. He was born blind in one eye, losing the rest of his sight during childhood. He began playing in his teens and became proficient with the 12 string guitar using a finger-style. This was unusual among his contemporaries. He also played slide guitar. He took the name Blind Willie McTell early in his career.
He was first recorded in 1927 on Victor records. His recording career was also different from most of his fellow players of the day in that he was still playing and recording into the 1950’s. As we have seen, most either died young, or quit during the depression and went home. He was one of the artists that John Lomax put on record for posterity in the Library of Congress, making several recordings of him during the 1940’s. He died of a stroke in 1959. During his career, he never truly had a major hit, yet was extremely prolific, leaving a legacy that would influence many. Take a listen to this song and think of who this could be today.
I don’t know about you, but I clearly hear Eric Clapton buried in there. Great song. Here is one of his most covered songs.