The Blues Of Big Joe Williams

Big Joe Williams

Crawford, St. Louis & Beyond

Big Joe Williams performs some of his original blues songs on his nine-string guitar including “Don’t You Leave Me Here”, “Taylor Made Baby”, and “Peach Orchard Mama” for the camera during the 1960s.

Joseph Lee Williams was born in Crawford, Mississippi October 16, 1903. As a youth he began wandering across the United States busking and playing stores, bars, alleys and work camps. In the early 1920s he worked in the Rabbit Foot Minstrels revue and recorded with the “Birmingham Jug Band” in 1930 for Okeh.

In 1934, he was in St. Louis, where he met record producer Lester Melrose who signed him to Bluebird Records in 1935. He stayed with Bluebird for ten years, recording such blues hits as “Baby, Please Don’t Go” (1935) and “Crawlin’ King Snake” (1941), both songs later covered by many other performers. He also recorded with others, including Sonny Boy Williamson I, Robert Nighthawk and Peetie Wheatstraw.

Williams remained a noted blues artist through the 1950s and 1960s, his guitar style and vocals becoming popular with folk-blues fans. He became a regular on the concert and coffeehouse circuits, touring Europe and Japan in the late 1960s and early 1970s and performing at major U.S. music festivals.

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