One of the last living links to Robert Johnson (his autobiography, The World Don't Owe Me Nothing is a collection of great stories about Johnson, Big Joe Williams, and Little Walter as well as his own youthful escapades, coinciding with a critically-acclaimed album by the same name), Chicago blues guitarist David "Honeyboy" Edwards has finally gotten a bit of the due that should be his right. He has toured worldwide, and recorded for over a dozen labels, both solo (Rolling Stone: "(Edwards) shows that you don't always need a band to move people's feet") and with bands, and though he's lived in Chicago for more than 40 years, his music is still firmly rooted in the Mississippi delta.
Whether because he's gone a bit foofy in the head or because he's just eccentric, he changes chords whenever he feels like it (and his timing is bizarre even for a country bluesman), so his sidemen have to pay close attention. He and harpist Carey Bell have played together off and on for decades.
Born in Shaw, Mississippi in 1915, Edwards learned guitar from his father, Henry Edwards, and friends Tommy McClennan (who "Honeyboy" would long play with) and Robert Petway. At the age of 14, Edwards left for the road under guitarist Big Joe Williams. During the next few years he played on street corners, in river boats, brothels, house parties, and delta juke joints with folks like McClennan, Homesick James, Big Walter Horton, Yank Rachell, Charley Patton, Son House, Tommy Johnson, Robert Petway, and Robert Johnson. Edwards was with Johnson the night he died, and his statement that Johnson was poisoned by a jealous husband is considered most credible by historians...
During the 1930s, "Honeyboy" moved to Memphis, where he played regularly with the Memphis Jug Band, Will Shade, Memphis Slim, Roosevelt Sykes, Big Walter Horton, and Little Walter Jacobs. In 1942, Edwards began his recording career, cutting fifteen tracks for Library of Congress' Alan Lomax at Stovall's Plantation, as well as several Texas labels, and Sam Phillips' Sun Records in Memphis.
In 1953, Edwards moved to Chicago, building a reputation as one of the city's best slide guitarists. He recorded for Chess records, and performed -- both in clubs and on street corners -- with Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, Otis Spann, Sunnyland Slim, and Howlin' Wolf.
"Mr. Edwards," says the New York Times, "is among the last authentic performers in the blues... everything he does is infused with the rocking drive and hypnotic modal flavor of depression-era blues at its most intense."
"Despite his advanced age," says the Chicago Reader's David Whiteis, "Edwards can still attain an almost frightening intensity, delivering lyrics in a dark, throaty shout and ripping single-note phrases from his fretboard as if he were tearing them out of the Delta soil itself."
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