DAVID ‘Honeyboy’ EDWARDS
One of the few authentic Delta Blues players to bring the music into the present day, Honeyboy Edwards recorded a Grammy winning album in 2008 and was still performing almost until the day he died. Honeyboy reported that he was with his friend, the legendary Delta Bluesman Robert Johnson on the night he drank the poisoned whisky that killed him. Recording for the Library of Congress in 1942, and in Chicago in the 50s, Honeyboy’s commercial success had to wait beyond the Blues revival of the 60s. His archaic country style was overlooked until the 70s, when his authentic Delta sound made him a worldwide favourite at Blues Festivals, and he continued to play the Blues to a ripe old age.
‘Lay My Burden Down’, an example of Honeyboy’s downhome style;
Honeyboy teamed up with harp-player Michael Frank in 1972, later forming an electric band with him, and when Michael set up his Earwig label, they called in Sunnyland Slim, ‘Shakey’ Horton and Kansas City Red to record the ‘Old Friends’ album. Earwig also issued ‘Delta Bluesman’, which mixed the Library of Congress recordings with more modern material. By that stage, Honeyboy’s authentic Blues growl and masterful guitar work had got him gigs on the club and Festival circuit. His combination of personal songs and covers of classic Blues by the men he knew back in the Delta made him a big attraction and he toured the world as a living link to the Origins of the Blues. Honeyboy was no fossil, however, and his strong voice and playing style stayed with him into his nineties.
In 2008, Honeyboy shared a Grammy with Pinetop Perkins, Robert Jr. Lockwood and Henry Townsend for their best-selling album, ‘Last of the Great Mississippi Bluesmen’. It was a suitable epitaph for Honeyboy, who passed away at home in Chicago after a few months illness in August 2011. He was booked to play the local Millennium Park on the day he died, and his plans included some gigs in Europe.