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Big Joe Williams

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Big Joe Williams (Joseph Lee Williams, Crawford, Mississippi, October 16, 1903 – December 17, 1982) was an American Delta blues guitarist, singer and songwriter, notable for the distinctive sound of his nine-string guitar. Performing over four decades, he recorded such songs as “Baby Please Don’t Go”, “Crawlin’ King Snake” and “Peach Orchard Mama” for a variety of record labels, including Bluebird, Delmark, Okeh, Prestige and Vocalion. Williams was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame on October 4, 1992.

Williams as a youth began wandering across the United States busking and playing stores, bars, alleys and work camps. In the early 1920s he worked in the Rabbit Foot Minstrels revue and recorded with the Birmingham Jug Band in 1930 for the Okeh label.

In 1934, he was in St. Louis, where he met record producer Lester Melrose who signed him to Bluebird Records in 1935. He stayed with Bluebird for ten years, recording such blues hits as “Baby, Please Don’t Go” as Joe Williams’ Washboard Blues Singers (1935) and “Crawlin’ King Snake” (1941), both songs later covered by many other performers. He also recorded with other blues singers, including Sonny Boy Williamson I, Robert Nighthawk and Peetie Wheatstraw.

Williams remained a noted blues artist in the 1950s and 1960s, with his guitar style and vocals becoming popular with folk-blues fans. He recorded for the Trumpet, Delmark, Prestige and Vocalion labels, among others. 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.

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  • jazzthieve

    Spotify playlist: Blues: Chicago Blues, Delta Blues, Electric Blues, Jump Blues, Piedmont Blues

    3 Apr 2013 Reply
  • Domin_vlc

    http://www.facebook.com/WaltzMeBlues http://waltzmeblues.tumblr.com/

    27 Sep 2012 Reply
  • ziomaliszta

    That's the way to play good ol' blues! Just great!

    6 Aug 2012 Reply
  • Forteski

    American Folk Blues Festival group: http://www.last.fm/group/American+Folk+Blues+Festival

    24 Jun 2012 Reply
  • hashbrown_jr

    thanks you Big Joe Williams blues star

    18 Sep 2011 Reply
  • Parisblues

    Il y a un large choix d'images sans faire d'incitation au tabac. s'il vous plait votez . / there's a large choice of pictures without doing tabacco incitation. please vote.

    21 Aug 2011 Reply
  • maskeraddanne

    Master of the... NINE-string guitar, really? That makes him stand out, for damn sure! [2]

    6 Aug 2011 Reply
  • Druid66

    Master of the... NINE-string guitar, really? That makes him stand out, for damn sure!

    6 Aug 2011 Reply
  • staytooned

    @staytooned007 (tweet me). STAYTOONED WAS HERE~

    20 Aug 2010 Reply
  • JoshCIVM

    ...I think everyone was just a cracked nutcase. Which is what makes them so cool.

    23 Apr 2009 Reply
  • Jim_Lithium

    Pigmeatl - I think you got it wrong. I have the 'High Times Reader' book which includes a lenghty account by Michael Bloomfield called "Me and Big Joe" about his friendship and trips with the guy. They went to see Jazz Gillum together and he was the one who was living in a shack, stoking a raging fire in the middle of the summer.

    5 Mar 2009 Reply
  • BluesRok

    At the group Blues Artist of the Week, you can vote for up to 5 artist for the title each week, and play some great blues games! Hope to see you there!

    20 Nov 2008 Reply
  • PigmeatI

    I remember reading an account by Paul Butterfield about trying to locate Big Joe in the 60's when the blues revival took off. He was going to take him out on tour. He found Big Joe holed up in a shack in the middle of summer,fire blazing in the stove,every stitch of clothes he owned on, widows and doors sealed tight hollerin' about how the fire was keeping the Devil away. Butterfield got him out and spent some time with him,but I think Big Joe scared the living Hell out of him? Sometimes you need to let sleeping dogs lie.

    23 Sep 2008 Reply
  • BlindWilliam

    I'm'a build me a scaffold/and hang my doggone self. Bring your bags from the south over to Great Black Music. P E A C E > bw

    1 Sep 2008 Reply
  • SYL2Oh

    The many years spent on roads have fed the imagination of this guitarist whith the full game!

    26 May 2008 Reply
  • Carlos44

    big man ;)

    1 Jan 2008 Reply
  • safe-as-milk

    history will favour me as the first person on the shoutbox. some of the best delta guitar work out there

    26 Dec 2007 Reply

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