R.L. Burnside - My Black Name a Ringin'.wmv
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Uploaded on Mar 18, 2011
BIOGRAPHY WRITTEN BY ME: http://sammynyman.blogspot.com/2011/0...
An era in American music ended when legendary blues guitarist R.L. Burnside passed away in 2005. A fixture on the Mississippi Delta blues scene for decades, Burnside and his gritty, growling musical style was a living link to the black musicians who originated the Delta blues back in the 1920s and from whom he first learned how to play. In the early 1990s Burnside gained fame when he was "discovered" by new generation of blues aficionados and rock and rollers. One of them, Judah Bauer of the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, told Guitar Player's Jas Obrecht that Burnside was "devoted to the blues.... Hanging out with him, you really feel he's from another time and place. The past in him is big—he's a direct connection to it—and you hear it in his storytelling and phrases."
Born Robert Lee Burnside in 1926 in Lafayette County, Mississippi, Burnside spent much of his life in the northern section of the state, just outside of the unofficial borders of the region known as the Delta. A triangular basin between the Mississippi and Yazoo rivers, the Delta was long an impoverished, rural place, with an economy dominated by an unfair system in which whites owned the land and black sharecroppers worked it for meager wages. The blues was a musical style that emerged as a key element of African-American culture in the twentieth century, and was born in the 1920s out of the Delta's pervasive injustice and racism. "Working for the man, you couldn't say nothing but you could sing about it, ya know," Burnside told Ed Mabe in a 1999 interview that was published on the Web site Perfect Sound Forever, when asked about the starting point of the blues. "Couldn't tell him what he done wrong."
Burnside was himself a sharecropper in his earliest working years, and did not begin playing the guitar until the age of 16. He came under the influence of a neighbor, "Mississippi Fred" McDowell, who was one of the pioneers of the blues genre. (The Rolling Stones paid tribute to McDowell with a cover of his "You Gotta Move" on their 1971 LP, Sticky Fingers.) In the 1940s, lured by the promise of well-paying factory jobs, Burnside headed north to Chicago, where his father had settled. He found a thriving black musical subculture there, and often hung out with Muddy Waters, another Mississippi transplant who would come to dominate the Chicago blues scene. Waters, a legendary guitarist who was one of the first blues musicians to use an electric guitar, married Burnside's cousin.
Burnside dabbled in music when he lived in Chicago, but most of his time was devoted to a job in a foundry. He married Alice Mae Taylor in 1949, with whom he would have twelve children. Life in Chicago changed, however, when in the space of one year, Burnside's father, uncle, and two brothers were slain; his brothers were murdered on the same day in unrelated incidents. He fled the urban violence and headed back to Mississippi, where he drove a farm tractor by day and at night traveled around to play guitar in the juke joints near his home in Holly Springs, the seat of Marshall County.
In 1960 Muddy Waters played the Newport Jazz Festival, which incited widespread interest in the blues across America and Europe. Some years later, a folklorist came down to Mississippi to record Burnside and other obscure musicians who had learned from the original players back in the 1930s and 1940s. Burnside was included in this compilation record, simply titled Mississippi Delta Blues, which was issued on the Arhoolie label in 1967. He was invited to play at the occasional folk festival, and even made a tour of Canada in 1969. A few of Burnside's sons eventually followed him into a musical career and formed an act called Sound Machine. Burnside recorded with them in the late 1970s, and they occasionally performed at blues festivals in Britain and West Germany.
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