Born Major Merriweather (or Merewether) in Atlanta, Georgia, he taught himself how to play piano. In the 1920s he moved to Detroit and began playing parties and clubs. In 1941, a desire to record led him to Chicago where he met and befriended Tampa Red. Red introduced him to Lester Melrose of Bluebird Records, who signed him to a recording contract.
His first record was “Worried Life Blues” (1941), which promptly became a blues hit and remained his signature piece. Other classic piano blues recordings such as “Chicago Breakdown” followed. His piano style developed from players like Leroy Carr and Roosevelt Sykes, as well as from the boogie-woogie style of Meade “Lux” Lewis and Albert Ammons.
His career was cut short in 1946 by a stroke. However, he was one of the most influential blues piano players of the 1940s and his style had an impact on practically every post-World War II blues pianist of note. His most famous song, “Worried Life Blues” is a staple of the blues repertoire, with artists such as Eric Clapton featuring it regularly in performances.
Edited by zrsullivan on 19 Jan 2008, 23:32
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