Born: 1885 | Died: 1938 Primary Instrument: Banjo
Papa Charlie Jackson was the first blues singer to record while accompanying himself on six string banjo. His first session was for Paramount in 1924 where he cut Papa's Lawdy Blues and Airy Man Blues.
Born in New Orleans in 1885, Jackson moved to Chicago in 1924, when Paramount’s J. Mayo Williams saw him singing in the street and recruited him for the label. Between 1924 and 1934 he cut around 70 sides.
Jackson was the first really successful self accompanied performer and he has the distinction of being one of the creators of “Hokum”, a spicy form of popular song that made repeated and continual references to sex, his most popular composition being “Shake That Thing.” He also recorded with Ma Rainey and Ida Cox before his subsequent death around 1938.
Jackson’s style as a soloist was unique and sophisticated for the period. It ran the gamut from hot chordal solos and single-note plectrum runs a la Lonnie Johnson or Eddie Lang, to the finger picking styles of the rural blues guitarist. He often used fast chordal runs behind his vocals following the melody closely, which gave his songs more bounce and swing. Due to his early death Jackson seems to have fallen through the cracks and is all but forgotten today by critics and historians.
Source: Red Hot Jazz