Charlie Patton

Charlie Patton’s tombstone in Holly Ridge, Mississippi, pretty much sums up his musical genius: “The Voice of the Delta – The Foremost Performer of Early Mississippi Blues Whose Songs Became Cornerstones of American Music”. The historic Mississippi Blues Trail also starts from Patton’s final resting place. Fondly called the “Father of the Delta Blues”, Patton lived like a true bluesman, complete with a nomadic lifestyle, excessive smoking and drinking, temper tantrums and womanizing, with eight marriages behind him. However, all his characteristics faded in comparison to his extraordinary talent. The boxed set titled Screamin’ and Hollerin’ the Blues: The Worlds of Charley Patton picked up three Grammy Awards in 2003, in the categories Best Album Notes, Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package, and Best Historical Album. In 2006, Patton’s classic “Pony Blues” was included in the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry. His onstage persona was as flamboyant as his colorful offstage self, and showmanship was the hallmark of all his performances. Playing his slide guitar between his knees or behind his head were Patton’s trademark styles. His lyrics touched a chord with everyone, laced as they were with the hardships or life or the pain of love. In 1980, he was inducted into the Blues Foundation's Hall of Fame, cementing his position as one of the pioneers of blues music. Critics say that apart from Blind Lemon Jefferson, Patton is arguably the most influential blues artist to inspire future greats like Muddy Waters, Son House, Robert Johnson, Howlin Wolf, Tommy Johnson and Elmore James, to name a few. In 2001, Bob Dylan had dedicated the song “High Water (For Charlie Patton)” to the blues legend.

Born on May 1, 1891 in Hinds County, Mississippi, Patton’s primary influence during his growing years came from Henry Sloan. Patton was determined to leave his miserable life as a sharecropper at the Dockery Plantation behind and start over as a traveling musician. Thus began the historic journey of the blues, from Mississippi to Georgia, Missouri, Texas, Tennessee and Illinois. His gravely voice and raw guitar playing won him immediate recognition, backed by powerful lyrics as heard in songs like “Pony Blues”,  High Sheriff Blues”, "Down The Dirt Road Blues”, "Banty Rooster Blues”, “High Water Blues  and “Oh Death”.  Patton’s first recording was for Paramount, in the year 1929.  With 14 titles to his credit and $700 in his pocket, Patton was well on his to way to becoming the biggest celebrity in the Delta region. He again recorded for Paramount after a few months, with Henry "Son" Sims, and the third session with the same recording label took place in 1930, this time with Son House, Willie Brown and Louise Johnson. Patton’s final recording for Paramount was released in 1932.  After unparalleled   contribution to the American music industry, Patton died of a heart attack on April 28, 1934, in Indianola in Mississippi. It is believed that there is only one photograph of Charlie Patton that exists today, and the lucky gentleman who has it is rare phonograph record collector John Tefteller.

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'Pony Express' 25m27s Blues Backing Track in F Tempo: 125bpm
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