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Bukka White
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Bukka White

Bukka White (November 12, 1909February 26, 1977) was a delta blues guitarist and singer. "Bukka" was not a nickname, but a misspelling of White's given name Booker, by his second (1937) record label (Vocalion).

Biography

Born Booker T. Washington White near Houston, Mississippi, he gave his cousin B.B. King, a Stella guitar, King's first guitar. White himself is remembered as a player of National steel guitars. He also played, but was less adept at, the piano.

White started his career playing the fiddle at square dances. He claims to have met Charlie Patton early on, although some doubt has been cast upon this; regardless, Patton was a large influence on White. White typically played slide guitar, in an open tuning. He was one of the few, along with Skip James, to use a crossnote tuning in E minor, which he may have learned, as James did, from Henry Stuckey.

He first recorded for the Victor Records label in 1930. His recordings for Victor, like those of many other bluesmen, fluctuated between country blues and gospel numbers. His gospel songs were done in the style of Blind Willie Johnson, with a female singer accentuating the last phrase of each line.

Nine years later, while serving time, he recorded for folklorist John Lomax. The few songs he recorded around this time became his most well-known: "Shake 'Em On Down," and "Po' Boy."

Bob Dylan covered his song "Fixin' to Die Blues", which aided a "rediscovery" of White in 1963 by guitarist John Fahey and ED Denson, which propelled him onto the folk revival scene of the 1960s. White had recorded the song simply because his other songs had not particularly impressed the Victor record producer. It was a studio composition of which White had thought little until it re-emerged thirty years later. White was at one time managed by experienced Blues manager, Arne Brogger. Fahey and Denson found White easily enough: Fahey wrote a letter to "Bukka White (Old Blues Singer), c/o General Delivery, Aberdeen, Mississippi." Fahey had assumed, given White's song, "Aberdeen, Mississippi", that White still lived there, or nearby. The postcard was forwarded to Memphis, Tennessee, where White worked in tank factory. Fahey and Denson soon travelled to meet White, and White and Fahey remained friends throughout White's life.. He recorded a new album for Denson & Fahey's Takoma Records, whilst Denson became his manager.

White was, later in life, also friends with fellow musician, Furry Lewis. The two recorded, mostly in Lewis' Memphis apartment, an album together, Furry Lewis, Bukka White & Friends: Party! At Home.

One of his most famous songs, "Parchman Farm Blues", about the Mississippi's infamous Parchman Farm state prison, was to be released on Harry Smith's fourth, never realized, volume of the Anthology of American Folk Music. His 1937 version of the oft-recorded song, "Shake 'em on Down," is considered definitive, and became a hit while White was serving time in Parchman.

White was sampled by electronic artist Recoil for the track, "Electro Blues For Bukka White", on the 1992 album, Bloodline; the song was reworked and re-released on the 2000 EP "Jezebel".

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1990

 

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