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David "Honey Boy" Edwards: Gamblin Man

Like so many of his peers DAVID "HONEY BOY" EDWARDS left home at age 14 to join Big Joe Williams as an itinerant musician in 1929. They hitch-hiked around the South serenading truck drivers from one stop to the next, and when available would jump into a freight train Box Car. Honey Boy and Big Joe would play in Town Squares or just on the street drawing big crowds that would contribute nickels and dimes. Then he befriended and hooked up with Blues Legend, Robert Johnson, and actually was with Johnson the night he drank the famous "Poison Whiskey," that ended his career and his life.

 

When asked where he lived in the 30's and 40's Honey Boy replied:  "I didn't have a special place then. Anywhere was home. Where I do good, I stay. When it gets bad and dull, I'm gone."

 

In 1942 the Folklorist Alan Lomax tracked him down in Clarksville, Mississippi, and recorded about 15 L.P. sides of music for the Library of Congress, the invaluable cache of music from the great Blues Artists in their prime. In the 50's Edwards landed in Chicago, which by then was the Blues Capitol of the country.

 

Edwards found a manager and made a record for Trix Records, and that led to a contract with Earwig who re-recorded much of his earlier stuff and provided distribution. Later he would release records on several different Independent Labels and have regular bookings at Blues Clubs and Shows.

 

"Honey Boy" played until his death from congestive heart failure in August of 2011 at age 96, forcing cancellation of his gig at Chicago's Millennium Park that night. Fortunately for us, David "Honey Boy" Edwards was captured in a terrific video in 2005 when he was around 90 years old, playing and singing his song, GAMBLIN MAN, and talking about his incredible life. Check out his slide-finger picking guitar and distinctive vocal phrasing. @therealdonrocks 

 

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