Most Blues singers play guitar, harp, piano or some other instrument, but Texas Alexander’s powerful tenor voice was the only thing he needed to knock you sideways with his primitive Blues. Singing in the street or standing on the back of a wagon at a party or fish-fry, maybe backed by a guitarist, he would improvise deeply personal songs about working in the fields, about prison, about lost love or the wandering life, with a passion that spoke of bitter experience. His archaic style, with its free rhythms and wild ‘hollers’, throws a light on the origins of the Blues as a rural folk music of rare power and emotional force.
Texas and The Mississippi Sheiks document a local disaster;
Texas’s younger cousin Sam (later Lightnin’) Hopkins was a regular accompanist around the work camps and juke-joints of East Texas in the 30s, and he sometimes played with the young Lowell Fulson, but Texas’s playing days seemed over when he was convicted of murdering his wife in 1939. He served six years in the State Penitentiary, and when he was freed, young Sam wanted him to move to the West-coast where he had a record deal. Texas wouldn’t go, although they did record together in 1947 for the Aladdin label. Texas teamed up with pianist Buster Pickens, and they recorded a few tracks for the Freedom label in 1950, but without many sales. The effects of long-term syphilis caught up with Texas in 1954.