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Fri, 10.16.1903

‘Big Joe’ Williams, Blues Musician born

'Big Joe' Williams

*'Big Joe' Williams was born on this date in 1903. He was a Black Delta blues guitarist, singer, and songwriter.  

Born in Oktibbeha County, a few miles west of Crawford, Mississippi, Joseph Lee' Big Joe' Williams began wandering across the United States busking and playing in stores, bars, alleys, and work camps as a youth. In the early 1920s, he worked in the Rabbit Foot Minstrels revue. He recorded with the Birmingham Jug Band in 1930 for Okeh Records. During the early 1930s, a young Muddy Waters accompanied Williams on his travels through the Mississippi Delta. In 1934, he was in St. Louis, Missouri, where he met the record producer Lester Melrose, who signed him to Bluebird Records in 1935.

Williams stayed with Bluebird for ten years, recording such blues hits as "Baby, Please Don't Go" (1935) and "Crawlin' King Snake" (1941). He also recorded with other blues singers, including Sonny Boy Williamson, Robert Nighthawk, and Peetie Wheatstraw.  Williams remained a noted blues artist in the 1950s and 1960s. He became a regular on the concert and coffeehouse circuits, touring Europe and Japan in the late 1960s and early 1970s and performing at major U.S. music festivals.

He also influenced a young Bob Dylan during the early Sixties. Williams and Dylan also recorded several duets in 1962 for Victoria Spivey's label, Spivey Records. 'Big Joe' Williams died December 17, 1982, in Macon, Mississippi. His grave is in a private cemetery near the Lowndes County line outside Crawford. He entered the Blues Hall of Fame on October 4, 1992. 2003 Williams was honored with a marker on the Mississippi Blues Trail in Crawford.

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