Jackson, John (American blues singer)
- Alessandro Bratus
(b Rappahanahock County, VA, Feb 24, 1924; d Fairfax, VA, Jan 20, 2002). American blues singer, banjoist, and guitarist. One of the most important bluesmen on the East Coast, and a master of the Piedmont tradition, he grew up in a family of amateur musicians, started playing guitar at the age of four, and learned slide guitar from a chain gang convict nicknamed Happy. Influenced by early blues musicians heard on records, such as Blind Lemon Jefferson, Blind Blake, and Blind Boy Fuller, as well as by country singer Jimmie Rodgers, he developed a distinctive style of finger picking especially on the banjo. A gifted guitarist, he embraced both blues and country music, blending black and white tradition of the Appalachian area. By 1950, when he married his wife Cora and started working for a farmer in Fairfax, he had come to believe that music encouraged violent behavior, so he quit playing. In the mid-1960s Jackson was rediscovered by Chuck Perdue, president of the Great Washington Folklore Society, and started performing again, in coffeehouses. Although his fame extended beyond his local community, leading him to perform occasionally outside the United States, he always maintained a strong commitment to his family and hometown, where he kept his job as a gravedigger until his death in ...