- February 2nd.,1890-- Horace Sprott
- February 15th.,1984-- Gary Lee Clark Jr
- February 28th.,1934-- Giorgio Gomelsky
- February 5th.,2008-- Cleveland "Schoolboy Cleve" White
- February 16th.,2010-- Wilroy Sanders
- February 26th.,1995-- Willie Lee Johnson
Joe's Blues Blog February 2020
Some February Blues Births:
Answer To The January 2020 Blues Question: The bluesman we were looking for was/is Emery H. "Little Junior" Williams, better known as Detroit Junior, born October 26, 1931, in Haynes, Arkansas. While he was an infant, the family moved nine miles to the north, to Forrest City. In '39 they moved to Memphis, Tennessee, and then on to Pulaski, Illinois, in '43, where Junior was raised by his grandmother. He became interested in music in his early teens. In '47 he moved to Flint, Michigan, where he worked house parties and shows, into '50. In late '50 he worked outside of the music field, in Pontiac, Michigan, and then in Cleveland, Ohio, in '51. He made his first recordings in '52, on the Great Lakes label, in Pontiac, but they were never released. From '52 to sometime in '56, he performed with musicians who were travelling in the area, such as John Lee Hooker, Amos Milburn (the original writer and performer of the song "One Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer"), and Eddie Boyd. Most of that was done in the Detroit area. In '56, Boyd got him to move to Chicago, hopefully to get a recording contract with Chess Records. While in Chicago, Junior performed with J.T. Brown, Little Mack (Simmons), James Cotton, Sam Lay, Eddie "Playboy" Taylor, Johnny Twist (Williams), and others. During that time, he also toured with James Cotton’s band. He then went on to tour, perform, and record with Howlin' Wolf's band, up to when Wolf passed away in '76. He stayed on with that band for a number of years, The Wolf Gang, who continued to perform Wolf's tunes. As I mentioned in the Blues Question, his career was influenced by his idol, Amos Milburn, who wrote humorous songs about the evils of alcohol. Of the hundreds of songs that Junior wrote, his best were along those same lines. After the Wolf Gang broke up, he returned to Chicago, where he performed on his own, occasionally with others, in the local clubs. In his early career he developed a fan base because of his style of play, and his stage shows. He would play standing up, kneeling, and-- picture this --from underneath the piano (and people think that playing the guitar behind one's head is hard!). Even after he lost a leg to diabetes, he continued to play in Chicago's North Side clubs, such as B.L.U.E.S. and Kingston Mines. He passed away on August 9,2005, at home, of heart failure.
Blues Question For February 2020: This bluesman was known mostly as a sideman, though he did front a band for a number of years. He also owned a Chicago blues club, shut it down, and, some years later, re-opened it. Any idea who this bluesman might be?
Blues Song(s) And Artist(s) For February 2020: The song is "Strange Letter Blues", and the artist is Schoolboy Cleve (Cleveland White), recorded around August of '54, in Crowley, Louisiana, on the Feature label. Cleve did the vocal and harmonica work, with Lightnin' Slim (Otis V. Hicks) on guitar, and Sammy Drake on drums. Listen closely to the words in this song, as they relate what the blues is/are all about. If you don't hear them clearly, look up the lyrics, and you'll get it!
Blues Trivia For February 2020: I thought since the main artist in this month's answer section is a pianist, that I should have another one in this section. Accordingly, this is about Otis Spann, who was the piano player in Muddy Waters' early '50's band. He was recruited for that spot by Jimmy Rogers, who had found him to having been sleeping in his car, because he couldn't get enough gigs to afford an apartment. Since the early blues recordings at Chess Records were building the careers and name recognition of its roster of bluesmen, such as Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, Little Walter, and many others, Spann was also being noticed. He was tapped frequently to be a session player for many of the Chess artists, in different genres, though most of the time he was uncredited as being on those recordings. Those sessions led to Otis being sought after to be a session player for many other artists, on many other labels. Most of the time he was not credited on those either. Here's a little trivia on Otis. If you're familiar with Chuck Berry and his Chess recordings, you know that his piano player was Johnnie Johnson. What you may not know however, is that quite a few of Chuck's recordings used Otis Spann on piano, uncredited yet again.
Some February Blues Passings:
Proprietor of The Sound of Blue record shop in Kent, Ohio.