David "Honeyboy" Edwards was a Delta blues guitarist and singer
from the American South. He was also the last of the original Delta
bluesmen and now a documentary that looks at the history of
the blues through his eyes will soon be released on DVD. Watch the
'Honeyboy and the History of the Blues' looks at the career of
the bluesman, who passed away in Chicago on August 29, 2011 at the
age of 96.
The film features interviews with Keith Richards, Joe Perry,
Robert Cray, B.B. King and Lucinda Williams talking about the
importance of the blues, both on their own work and the history of
American popular music. Edwards is also seen performing, in clubs,
in a rural setting, and along the Chicago lakefront.
Called "The Last of the Great Mississippi Delta Bluesmen,"
Edwards friends included greats, such as Robert Johnson and Charlie
Patton. He appeared in the 1991 film, 'The Search for Robert
Johnson,' and over the years frequently told the story of how he
was present the night in 1938 when Johnson was fatally poisoned by
a jealous husband.
'Honeyboy' described his life:
On Saturday, somebody like me or Robert Johnson would go into
one of these little towns, play for nickels and dimes. And
sometimes, you know, you could be playin' and have such a big crowd
that it would block the whole street. Then the police would come
around, and then I'd go to another town and where I could play at.
But most of the time, they would let you play. Then sometimes the
man who owned a country store would give us something like a couple
of dollars to play on a Saturday afternoon. We could hitchhike,
transfer from truck to truck, or if we couldn't catch one of them,
we'd go to the train yard, 'cause the railroad was all through that
part of the country then...we might hop a freight, go to St. Louis
or Chicago. Or we might hear about where a job was paying off - a
highway crew, a railroad job, a levee camp there along the river,
or some place in the country where a lot of people were workin' on
a farm. You could go there and play and everybody would hand you
some money. I didn't have a special place then. Anywhere was home.
Where I do good, I stay. When it gets bad and dull, I'm gone.
Edwards moved to Chicago in the 1950s and continued to perform
and record up until only a few months before his passing. Edwards
won a Grammy Award in 2008 for Best Traditional Blues Album, and in
2010 was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Grammy. His autobiography,
'The World Don't Owe Me Nothing,' was published in
1997. Edwards continued the rambling life he describes in his
autobiography as he still toured the world well into his 90s.
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