Charley Patton (1887-1934)
AS THE FIRST GREAT MISSISSIPPI DELTA BLUESMAN, CHARLEY PATTON GREATLY INFLUENCED FUTURE PERFORMERS. A SINGER AND GUITARIST, HE RECORDED AT GENNETT’S RICHMOND STUDIO IN 1929
MEMORY OF DORA BOWLING, AND BILLY AND GLENNA PHILLIPS, BY RANCER AND DANA HUNTINGTON, STATELINE MEDICAL EQUIPMENT
Born on a farm in Mississippi, Charley Patton was exposed early to all forms of blues, country ballads, and sacred music after his family moved to a plantation outside Cleveland, Mississippi. By his middle twenties, Patton was becoming a popular regional blues musician, playing picnics, house parties, single-room juke joints, and barrelhouse levee camps. His popularity and importance in early Mississippi Delta country blues was a testament to the originality and spontaneity of his guitar playing and singing. Charlie Patton was not just a bluesman, but a remarkably gifted and innovative artist and entertainer. In early spring 1929, “race records” talent scout H. C. Speir of Jackson, Mississippi, auditioned Patton on the plantation and highly recommended him to Paramount Records. Speir sent him a train ticket for the trip to Richmond, Indiana, where Gennett Records was temporarily recording Paramount artists. The 14 sides he recorded for Gennett included some of Patton’s best and most successful songs. Pony Blues was the first release, and it captured the complex and subtle guitar and vocal rhythms of Patton’s signature song. He would go on to record many more songs elsewhere that would establish Charley Patton as perhaps the most formative Delta bluesman. “The Founder of the Delta Blues”, Patton’s music captured the blues style of the Mississippi Delta and heavily influenced the Chicago blues styles of Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf and their progeny, rock and roll stars such as Eric Clapton and the Rolling Stones.
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