THE "WINTER BLUES" SALE!
It may be cold out but the BLUES are smokin' hot! Regular blues t-shirts are ON SALE at the best prices of the year and blues posters are only $10!!
This sale is only lasting a couple of days, so get them while they're hot!
Blues T-Shirt Sale!
Back to the Biographies
Charley "Charlie" Patton
(1890s - April 28, 1934)
Charley Patton, also known by the alternative spelling Charlie Patton, was
unequivocally one of the most influential people to have ever touched the Blues. A
combination of timing and skill rightfully earned Charlie the title "Father of the Blues".
It was a title he obtained because he was one of the earliest recorded Bluesmen, as well
as him having personally mentored and taught a handfull of blues musicians who themselves
would become extremely large and influential figures in the development of modern music.
The only known picture of Charlie Patton
Early in his life, he was mentored by a mysterious man named Henry
. Unfortunately, Sloan is a victim of the sands of time. He was never recorded, and
next to nothing is known about him. Because of time, records, and other factors, it is
incredibly unlikely any more will ever be known about Sloan, but he obviously made
enough of an impact on Charlie Patton that the young student guitarist spent much of
his life as an entertainer and Bluesman when he wasn't working cotton fields. Charlie
was the most famous resident of Dockery Plantation
a ten-thousand acre plantation roughly twenty miles South of Clarksdale, Mississippi.
There, he recieved his guitar knowledge, and later he mentored some of the greatest
Bluesmen to have ever lived. He played with Son House and mesmerized
a young Howlin' Wolf
, who later took his vocal cues from
Patton's deep, gravelly voice (reportedly, at least partially gravelly because of a
knife fight where he had his throat slit and nearly died). Willie Brown, presumably
the same Willie Brown Robert Johnson would later sing about in his now famous
"Crossroad Blues", was Patton's sideman and later vocal partner. It was directly
from the school of Patton that slightly later musicians
such as Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters
John Lee Hooker
would cut their teeth from.
Dockery Plantation, where
Charley Patton lived for many years
From firsthand accounts by Son House and others, Charley Patton was a rockstar long before
there was Rock or stars. He was a tried entertainer, playing behind his back and between
his legs and employing other tricks. Son House called it "clowning". His guitar clowning,
though, some twenty years before Jimi Hendrix's birth, would make Hendrix a household
name for those exact stage antics. Patton began his recording caree by boldly writing
a self-praising letter to Mr. H.C Speir, a Jackson, Mississippi record store owner and
talent scout for several recording companies. Speir was so impressed with Patton's claims
that he made the trip to Dockery to see Charley for himself. It was from this meeting
that Patton had his first recording session for Paramount Records in Indiana. He recorded
fourteen tracks, including what could be considered the first Delta Blues hit single,
"Pony Blues". He recorded for Paramount two more times in the following years, once bringing
along his proteges Son House and Willie Brown to accompany him.
Charley Patton's Blues
Marker at Dockery Plantation
In April 1928, he passed away from either heart failure or an infection outside of Indianola,
Mississippi, only some twenty miles from Dockery Plantation. His wife and occasional recording
partner, Bertha Lee, was with him. Many years after his death, John Fogerty, of Creedence
Clearwater Revival fame, purchased a tombstone for Patton. It was erected in 1990. In his
lifetime, he made over fifty recordings which, while they have the quality of most 1930's
recordings, display his remarkable talent and ability. Patton was a teacher and enormous
influence on the men that would bring the Blues and soon Rock to a place far beyond the poor
porches, house parties, and street corners that it began in. It was because of this that
Patton can easily be considered one of the most important, pivotal musicians of the 20th
Notable songs by Charley Patton
High Water Everywhere
Pea Vine Blues
Notable books on Charley Patton
Delta Blues by Ted Gioia
(It should be noted that while the book is very informative, only a portion focuses on Charley Patton)