Also-The Blues World Lost Big Jack Johnson last week

22 Mar

Sorry I didn’t get this up last week, but also-here is the news on Big Jack Johnson’s passing. Story taken from, and a big thanks to BOB CORRITORE: RIP Big Jack Johnson – July 30, 1940 to March 14, 2011. Sad news came in from Dave Riley and Amy Brat that legendary Mississippi guitarist/mandolinist/vocalist Big Jack Johnson has passed away this morning at 6am in his hometown of Clarksdale, Mississippi after a long battle with heath issues. He was 70 years old. Note that there were some disturbing premature false announcements of Big Jack’s passing 3 days before his actual passing. Big Jack’s inventive, energetic, Delta-rooted guitar, rich confident vocals, down home songwriting, and larger than life stage presence made him one of the most celebrated bluesmen of Mississippi. His long music career included much national and international touring, many amazing record releases, and a huge amount of praise and respect. Big Jack was born in Lambert, Mississippi in the summer of 1940, and learned guitar from his father at age 13. He rose to prominence in the early 1960s working as a key member of the legendary Jelly Roll Kings, a champion blues band which also included Frank Frost and Sam Carr. Big Jack first appeared on record in the 1960s as the guitarist on two famous Frank Frost albums; Hey Boss Man on the Phillips International label (an offshoot of Sun Records) from 1962, and My Back Scratcher on Jewel from 1966. In the late 1970s, Michael Frank debuted his Earwig Music label with The Jelly Roll Kings / Rockin’ The Juke Joint Down which also was a recording debut for Big Jack’s great vocals. Soon afterward, Big Jack Johnson would start a solo career for himself, independent of the Jelly Roll Kings. His solo debut album, Oil Man (Big Jack used to hold down a day gig delivering oil barrels in Mississippi) on the Earwig label was released in 1987. This led to additional CDs for Earwig, a nice run with M.C. Records, and additional recordings for Rooster Blues, P-Vine Records, Right Coast Recording, and Big Jack Music. There was also a nice Jelly Roll Kings reunion album called Off Yonder Wall that came out in 1997 on the Fat Possum Records. Additionally, Big Jack appeared in the influential 1992 documentary movie Deep Blues. He was a popular festival and club entertainer, a warm and hospitable person, and an amazing musician. Big Jack Johnson was the last original member of the Jelly Roll Kings. His passing leaves a gap in the blues that will never again be filled. To see his amazing performance of “Catfish Blues” from the movie Deep Blues, click here. Thanks for all the great music Big Jack. You are loved!

Remembering Pinetop Perkins..

22 Mar

We just recieved the sad news about Pinetop Perkins-This story taken from Blues Harp Player Bob Corritore’s e-mail: RIP Pinetop Perkins July 7, 1913 to March 21, 2011. Nobody can live forever, but for a period of time in his long life of 97 years, the legendary Pinetop Perkins made us think it was possible. It is with tears that we say goodbye to one of the most loved and highly respected blues musicians of our time. Pinetop Perkins died today of heart failure at his home in Austin, Texas. We know that Pinetop led a rich and happy life, and that he understood the simple pleasures, which he enjoyed everyday. Pinetop Perkins was born in Belzoni, Mississippi. He began his career as a guitarist, but then injured the tendons in his left arm in a fight with a choir-girl in Helena, Arkansas. Unable to play guitar, Pinetop switched to the piano. He got his moniker from playing the popular “Pinetop’s Boogie Woogie”, a 1928 hit by pianist Pinetop Smith. Pinetop accompanied Sonny Boy Williamson II on the Helena based radio program King Biscuit Time on KFFA. He worked with Robert Nighthawk, accompanying him on the 1950 Aristocrat recording of “Jackson Town Gal”. In the 1950s, Perkins joined Earl Hooker’s band and began touring, stopping to record “Pinetop’s Boogie Woogie” at Sam Phillips’ studio in Memphis, Tennessee. Pinetop was a major influence on the young Ike Turner, whom he taught piano. Pinetop joined the Muddy Waters Band in 1969, replacing Otis Spann, and playing in the band for over a decade. It is from his time with Muddy that Pinetop became a well known name in the blues. Pinetop would leave Muddy’s band with other band members to form The Legendary Blues Band before restarting his solo career. Along the way, Pinetop was helped by the confident direction provided by manager Patricia Morgan, who was a tireless and diplomatic advocate. Pinetop won three Grammy Awards, and so many Handy Awards that he gracefully took himself out of the running by changing the piano category award to his namesake. Though he rose to the highest of stature, Pinetop was always very accessible and appeared on numerous albums, and projects. He remained active, healthy and happy until the end, even with a daily habit of cigarettes, and McDonald’s (double mac with cheese, medium sprite, and an apple pie). He spent his 97th birthday flying to Spain to play a blues festival, and this year he won his third Grammy for “Best Traditional Blues album” for Joined At The Hip, his collaboration with Willie “Big Eyes” Smith on the Telarc label. We should also mention Barry Nowlin, Michael Freeman, Bob Margolin, Hugh Southard of Blue Mountain Artists, Onnie Heaney, Little Frank Krakowski, Bob Stroger, Diunna Greenleaf, and Pete Carlson for their support roles in Pinetop’s life. We will miss Pinetop’s distinctive voice and his elegant, interactive piano style. He has touched all of us with his charm, his talent, and his loving approach to life. Though we hate to say goodbye, we have to be thankful for the great joy that he brought us. God bless you Pinetop.