Today is the birthday of Mississippi Fred McDowell (1904-1972). Despite his unambiguous association with a particular state (where he lived a good part of his life), McDowell was born in, and died in Tennessee. He worked as a farmer and cotton picker most of his adult life, playing slide guitar at dances and parties and such in his spare time. It wasn’t until he he was 55 years old that we recorded by folklorists Alan Lomax and Shirley Collins. Thereafter he was able play professionally for his remaining 13 years.
Here’s one of his most famous tunes, recorded in 1964, and covered by the Rolling Stones on their album Sticky Fingers in 1971:
To find out more about show business past and present, 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