Sunday, March 1, 2009
Big Joe Williams (1903 - 1982)
Big Joe Williams (born Joseph Lee Williams, October 16, 1903 - December 17, 1982) was an American Delta blues musician and songwriter, known for his characteristic style of guitar-playing, his nine-string guitar, and his bizarre, cantankerous personality.
Born in Crawford, Mississippi, 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 a contract with Bluebird Records in 1935. He stayed with Bluebird for ten years, recording such blues hits as "Baby, Please Don't Go" (1935) and "Crawlin' King Snake" (1941), both songs later covered by many other performers. He also recorded with other blues singers, including John Lee "Sonny Boy" Williamson, 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.