Born: June 28, 1915 | Died: August 29, 2011 Primary Instrument: Guitar
The blues can be understood as a cumulative art form in which the artists build their styles and repertoires based on their experiences and on what they have learned from other musicians. Honeyboy Edwards is a monumental figure in that rich, cultural history and a living link with the birth of the blues.
David Honeyboy Edwards was born June 28, 1915 in Shaw, Mississippi. Honeyboy is one of the last living links to Robert Johnson, and one of the last original acoustic Delta blues players. He is a living legend, and his story is truly part of history. He is the real deal.
Honeyboy was a part of many of the seminal moments of the blues. As Honeyboy writes in The World Don't Own Me Nothing, ...it was in '29 when Tommy Johnson come down from Crystal Springs, Mississippi. He was just a little guy, tan colored, easy-going; but he drank a whole lot. At nighttime, we'd go there and listen to Tommy Johnson play. Honeyboy continues, Listening to Tommy, that's when I really learned something about how to play guitar.
Honeyboy's life has been intertwined with almost every major blues legend, including Robert Johnson, Charlie Patton, Big Joe Williams, Rice Sonny Boy Williamson Miller, Howlin' Wolf, Peetie Wheatstraw, Sunnyland Slim, Lightnin' Hopkins, Big Walter, Little Walter, Magic Sam, Muddy Waters, and ... well, let's just say the list goes on darn near forever!
In 1942, Alan Lomax recorded Honeyboy in Clarksdale, Mississippi for the Library of Congress. He recorded a total of fifteen sides of Honeyboy's music. Honeyboy didn't record again commercially until 1951, when he recorded Who May Your Regular Be for Arc Records. Honeyboy also cut Build A Cave as 'Mr. Honey' for Artist.
Moving to Chicago in the early fifties, Honeyboy played small clubs and street corners with Floyd Jones, Johnny Temple, and Kansas City Red. In 1953, Honeyboy recorded several songs for Chess that remained un-issued until Drop Down Mama was included in an anthology release.
In 1972, Honeyboy met Michael Frank, and the two soon became fast friends. In 1976, they hit the North Side Blues scene as The Honeyboy Edwards Blues Band, as well as performing as a duo on occasion. Michael founded Earwig Records, and in 1979 Honeyboy and his friends Sunnyland Slim, Kansas City Red, Floyd Jones, and Big Walter Horton recorded Old Friends.
Honeyboy's early Library of Congress performances and more recent recordings were combined on Delta Bluesman, released by Earwig in 1992. Honeyboy has written several blues hits, including Long Tall Woman Blues, Sweet Home Chicago and Just Like Jesse James. Honeyboy continues up and down the Blues Highway, traveling from juke joint to nightclub to festival, playing real Delta blues to adoring fans everywhere.
Since the turn of the new century, Honeyboy has kept busy and released “Shake ‘Em on Down,” in 2000, there was a reissue of his ’79 dates released as “Mississippi Delta Bluesman,” in 2001, “I’ve Been Around,” in 2003, “Old Friends,” (reissue) and “Back to the Roots,” both in 2005.
Honeyboy Edwards was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1996. In his 80s, he continues to travel and perform. His guitar and vocal performances are moving and intense. Listening to his live performances, one readily understands how Honeyboy Edwards has been captivating audiences around the world for decades.
He is the 2007 recipient of the W.C. Handy Blues Award for his lifelong contribution and embodiment of the original Delta Blues.
The last of the original Delta Bluesmen passed on August 29, 2011.
Source: James Nadal