Future Blues

Willie Brown

Who was Willie Brown?

This recording was made by Willie Brown (guitar & vocals) in Grafton, Wisconsin during June 1930.

Born Willie Lee Brown on August 6, 1900 in Clarksdale, Mississippi, Brown played with such notables as Charley Patton and Robert Johnson. He was not known to be a self-promoting frontman, preferring to “second” other musicians. Little is known for certain about the man whom Robert Johnson referenced “You can run, you can run, tell my friend Willie Brown” in his prophetic “Cross Road Blues”, and whom Johnson indicated should be notified in event of his death. Brown is heard on Patton’s 1930 sessions of Paramount, at which time he also made his only surviving commercial solo recordings “M & O Blues,” and “Future Blues.” At least four other songs he recorded for Paramount have never been found.

Apart from playing with Son House and Charlie Patton it has also been said that he played with artists such as Luke Thomson and Thomas “Clubfoot” Coles. David Evans has reconstructed the early biography of a Willie Brown living in Drew, Mississippi, until 1929. He is recalled as singing and playing guitar with Charley Patton and others in the neighbourhood of Drew. Informants with conflicting memories led Gayle Dean Wardlow and Steve Calt to conclude that this was a different Willie Brown. Evans rejects this, believing that the singing and guitar style of the 1931 recordings is clearly in the tradition of other performers from Drew such as Charley Patton, Tommy Johnson, Kid Bailey, Howling Wolf and artists recorded non-commercially.

Although certain details of his early life remain unclear, Willie Brown did settle in Robinsonville, Mississippi around 1929, moving to Lake Cormorant, Mississippi by 1935. He performed occasionally with Charley Patton, and continually with Son House until his death. Brown died of heart disease in Tunica, Mississippi in 1952, at the age of 52.

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