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date: 12 December 2019

Johnson, Tommy(i)locked

  • Paul Oliver


(b Terry, MS, c1896; d Crystal Springs, MS, Nov 1, 1956). American blues singer and guitarist. He moved to Crystal Springs as a child, and worked there mainly as a field hand and farmer. He was taught to play guitar by his brother, and performed at local functions and occasionally with traveling shows. Before World War I he was influenced by Charley Patton and his circle in Drew, Mississippi. He developed a beautiful and moving performing style exemplified on his first recording, “Cool Drink of Water Blues” (1928, Vic. 21279), which was taken slowly with falsetto phrases and accompanied by a complementary line in mandolin style by the guitarist Charlie McCoy. His “Big Road Blues” (1928, Vic. 21279) consisted of traditional verses forcefully sung against a compelling accompaniment of ascending steps. Johnson was addicted to alcohol, and sang about it on “Canned Heat Blues” (...

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