This post is one of a series honoring Black History Month.
Even more than Robert Johnson, Charley Patton can be called the father of the Delta Blues. As the clip below illustrates Patton’s playing is far more conventional than Johnson’s, but he came up earlier, playing very early in the 20th century (indeed, like most of the earliest bluesmen, his repertoire is full of stuff only tangentially associated with blues — other American folk forms, hillbilly music and 19th century ballads). Ironically, Patton recorded a lot more than Johnson — there seems to be less mysteray about him. He was born somewhere between 1887 and 1891 and lived until 1934.
Here’s the Rattlesnake Blues. If he sounds like Howlin’ Wolf, don’t be surprised, Patton was a big influence on him.
For more on show biz history, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.
And don’t miss my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc