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Thu, 04.01.1897

Lucille Bogen sang it like it was

Lucille Bogen

On this date in 1897, Lucille Bogen was born. She was an African American blues singer.

From Armory, MS, she spent her early years in Birmingham, AL, and had strong ties with that city’s Black underworld.  A big-voiced woman, Bogan made some important strides in the classic female blues tradition throughout the 1920s and early 1930s. Singing with surprising frankness about abusive men, prostitution, and a taste for both whiskey and sex, her recorded work is all solidly filled with pro-feminist outlooks, all the more surprising considering the era when her best work was done.

One of her early recordings with Brunswick records was Alley Boogie with pianist Charles Avery. After scoring a "race" hit in 1927 with Sweet Petunia, she changed her name (and her vocal style with it) to Bessie Jackson. Her best-known tune, the spicy Shave 'Em Dry, has shown up on numerous collections of bawdy blues material and is always a listener favorite, as its X-rated lyrics have crossed generations. Unlike other women singers from the genre, she seldom strayed into pop-style music of the times. Bogen was essentially a straight-ahead blues stylist with a rock solid sense of time and a big heart.

She was a provocative singer and an excellent songwriter who teamed with Walter Roland on many of her songs. Bogen moved to Los Angeles in the mid 1930s and was killed in an automobile accident during her first week there. Walter Roland was never heard from since.

Nothing But the Blues The Music and the Musicians
Edited by Lawrence Cohn
Copyright 1993 Abbeville Publishing Group, New York
ISBN 1-55859-271-7

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