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Mon, 06.28.1915

HoneyBoy Edwards, a Delta original

David HoneyBoy Edwards

*David "Honeyboy" Edwards was born on this date in 1915. He was an African American blues musician.

From in Shaw, Mississippi, Edwards was 14 years old when he left home to travel with bluesman Big Joe Williams, beginning the life as an itinerant musician that he led throughout the 1930s and 1940s. He played with his friend, blues musician Robert Johnson. Honeyboy was present on the night Johnson drank poisoned whiskey which killed him, and his story has become the definitive version of Johnson's demise. Edwards knew and played with many other leading bluesmen in the Mississippi Delta: Charley Patton, Tommy Johnson, and Johnny Shines.

Honeyboy was a part of many of the seminal moments of the blues.  As Honeyboy writes in "The World Don't Own Me Nothing", "...it was in '29 when Tommy Johnson come down from Crystal Springs, Mississippi. He was just a little guy, tan colored, easy-going; but he drank a whole lot. At nighttime, we'd go there and listen to Tommy Johnson play." Honeyboy continues, " Listening to Tommy, that's when I really learned something about how to play guitar." Honeyboy's life was intertwined with Big Joe Williams, Rice "Sonny Boy Williamson" Miller, Howlin' Wolf, Peetie Wheatstraw, Sunnyland Slim, Lightnin' Hopkins, Big Walter, Little Walter, Magic Sam, Muddy Waters, and more. In 1942, Alan Lomax recorded Honeyboy in Clarksdale, Mississippi for the Library of Congress, a total of fifteen sides of Honeyboy's music. Honeyboy didn't record again commercially until 1951, with "Who May Your Regular Be" for Arc Records. Honeyboy also cut "Build A Cave" as 'Mr. Honey' for Artist. Moving to Chicago in the early fifties, Honeyboy played small clubs and street corners with Floyd Jones, Johnny Temple, and Kansas City Red.

In 1953, Honeyboy recorded several songs for Chess that remained un-issued until "Drop Down Mama" was included in an anthology release.  In 1972, Honeyboy met Michael Frank, and in 1976, they hit the North Side Blues scene as The Honeyboy Edwards Blues Band, as well as performing as a duo on occasion. Michael founded Earwig Records, and in 1979 Honeyboy and his friends Sunnyland Slim, Kansas City Red, Floyd Jones, and Big Walter Horton recorded "Old Friends".  Honeyboy's early Library of Congress performances and more recent recordings were combined on "Delta Bluesman", released by Earwig in 1992.  Honeyboy wrote several blues hits, including "Long Tall Woman Blues", "Gamblin Man" and "Just Like Jesse James." His release, Roamin and Ramblin, on the Earwig Music label, featured Honeyboy's old school guitar and vocals - fresh takes on old gems and first time release of historic recordings.

In 2007, he released sessions with harmonica greats Bobby Rush, Billy Branch and Johnny "Yard Dog" Jones, previously unreleased 1975 studio recordings of Honeyboy and Big Walter Horton, and circa 1976 concert tracks -- solo and with Sugar Blue. Michael Frank, Paul Kaye, Rick Sherry and Kenny Smith also play on the album on various tracks. Honeyboy and Bobby Rush also tell some short blues tales. Honeyboy Edwards won a Grammy Award in 2008 for Best Traditional Blues Album, and in 2010 won another Grammy for Lifetime Achievment.

David HoneyBoy Edwards died on August 29, 2011 at his home in Chicago, Illnois. Honeyboy was one of the last living links to Robert Johnson, and one of the last original acoustic Delta blues players.

Reference:
All Media Guide
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