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Memphis Minnie-Frisco Town-1929

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Published on Mar 12, 2009

Lizzie Douglas aka Memphis Minnie was born in Algiers, Louisiana in 1897. At 13, she ran away from home to be a street performer on Memphis' Beale Street. She would return home to the family farm in Walls, Mississippi occasionally when she ran out of money. In 1929, Lizzie married guitarist Kansas Joe McCoy. In that same year, they were discovered by a Columbia Records talent scout. They traveled to NY to record "When the Levee Breaks", and "That Will Be Allright" with McCoy performing vocals on both. Several months later, still in New York, "When the Levee Breaks" was becoming a commercial success and Kansas Joe and Lizzie cut two more sides for Columbia- "Frisco Town" and "Goin' Back to Texas". Frisco Town was supposedly Lizzie's first vocal and she and Joe both sang on the Goin Back to Texas cut. At this point, Lizzie changed her name to Memphis Minnie. In 1930, Minnie recorded one of her most famous songs, "Bumble Bee", for Vocalion and the couple recorded for that studio for several more years. In 1930, they moved to Chicago and introduced the Blues to the Jazz town. By 1934, Joe had become jealous of Minnie's success and they split. Minnie was now recording for Bluebird as Texas Tessie. During the remainder of the 30s she made 8 more sides for Bluebird plus another 20 for Decca Record Co. In '39, she returned to Vocalion and married guitarist Earnest Lawlars aka Little Son Joe.They had great success together in the 40s but by the 50s, Minnie's all nighters with the whiskey bottle caught up with her. She performed one last show-a memorial to her friend Big Bill Broonzy- in 1958. Having suffered a stroke caused by the loss of Little Son Joe, she lived in a nursing home until 1973 with the financial support of her fans and benefits performed by Blues Musicians. True to the traditions of the blues artists, she was buried in an unmarked grave in Memphis in August 1973.

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