Honeyboy Edwards was born June 28, 1915 in Shaw, Mississippi and died August 29, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.
David “Honeyboy” Edwards was one of the last of the original Delta Bluesmen who traveled the South as hobos in the 1930s and who shaped early folk music into what later generations turned into rock ‘n’ roll.
Honeyboy Edwards was born on a plantation in the Mississippi Delta in 1915, the son of a sharecropper. After meeting Delta blues guitarist Big Joe Williams in December 1932, he left home at age 17, and traveled the South by hopping freight trains. Honeyboy worked with Big Joe Williams, Robert Johnson, Howlin’ Wolf, Sonny Boy Williamson, Tommy McClennan and countless others while honing his musical skills on the streets and in juke joints across 13 states.
Not long after recording with Alan Lomax for the Library of Congress in 1942, Honeyboy met teenage blues harmonica player Little Walter Jacobs, and took Walter to Chicago, where they frequented the city’s famous Maxwell Street Market. After a short stint there, Honeyboy recorded for the Artist Recording Company in Texas, and for Sun Records in Memphis. Returning to Chicago, he recorded for Chess Records. After deciding to make Chicago his home, he quickly became known as one of the city’s finest slide guitarists.
In the 1960s he recorded for Milestone, Adelphi and Blue Horizon labels. In the late 60s, the original Fleetwood Mac asked Honeyboy to play on their Blues Jam in Chicago sessions. Over the years that followed, he recorded albums for the Trix, Earwig, Roots, Folkways, Blue Suit and Acoustic Sounds labels.
Honeyboy is the featured artist on these Earwig CDs: Delta Bluesman (4922), The World Don't Owe Me Nothing (4940), and Roamin' And Ramblin' (4953). He plays and sings on Old Friends (4902), Goin' Back In The Times (4929), Don't Let The Devil In (4958) and The Blues Sessions (4962).
His last studio release, Roamin and Ramblin, on the Earwig Music label, features Honeyboy’s old school guitar and vocals – fresh takes on old gems and first time release of historic recordings. New 2007 sessions with harmonica greats Bobby Rush, Billy Branch, and Johnny “Yard Dog” Jones, previously unreleased 1975 studio recordings of Honeyboy and Big Walter Horton, and circa 1976 concert tracks – solo and with Sugar Blue. Michael Frank, Paul Kaye, Rick Sherry and Kenny Smith also play on the album on various tracks. Honeyboy and Bobby Rush also tell some short blues tales.
His many awards and honors include the Blues Foundation’s W.C. Handy Award, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences Lifetime Achievement Award, and the National Endowment for the Arts Heritage Fellowship award. He also received a Grammy for best Traditional Blues Album for his work on "Last of the Great Mississippi Delta Bluesmen,” which also featured Pinetop Perkins, Henry Townsend & Robert Lockwood Jr.
He played his last gigs in April 2011 at the Juke Joint Festival in Clarksdale, Mississippi.
ALBUM NOTES AND CREDITS
David "Honeyboy" Edwards - The World Don't Owe Me Nothing
Traditional Delta and Chicago blues in concert from Honeyboy Edwards and Carey Bell
Release Date August 19, 1997
David "Honeyboy" Edwards Bio
This CD was released immediately following the publication by Chicago Review Press of Honeyboy's autobiography, of the same title. This recording captures Honeyboy in concert, playing a mix of his favorites and new material and telling tales, joined on eight cuts by his longtime friend Carey Bell on harmonica. Rick Sherry plays washboard and harmonica on three tracks. After 65 years of living the blues, Edwards shows no signs of letting up. His unique solo interpretations of Hide Away - the Freddie King standard - is worth the price of admission.
It was recorded in Aurora, Illinois at the old Leland Hotel ballroom where RCA Bluebird made many recordings in the late 1930s and 1940’s, including classics by Honeyboy’s lifelong friends Henry Townsend, Robert Lockwood and others. Their spirits were in the house that night!
“The real thing, often stripped down to nothing but guitar and harmonica. An authoritative voice transmuting sadness into triumph.” – Shepard Express
CD Liner Notes
As I read the press coverage of the Rolling Stones' Chicago kickoff to their 1997 world tour, I am reminiscing about my high school days back in Pittsburgh, PA in 1964 when I bought my first Stones record along with the Greatest Hits LPs of Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry. Shortly after that I became a blues fanatic, buying every blues LP that I could. In 1970, while in college, I got the Chess album Drop Down Mama, and it changed my life, although I didn't know it then. That album featured Johnny Shines, Robert Nighthawk, Big Boy Spires, Blue Smitty, and Floyd Jones. The title track introduced me to David Honeyboy Edwards.
Similar records changed the Rolling Stones' lives, too, in their formative years. To put their careers in perspective, by the time the band first toured America, Honeyboy had been playing the blues for 35 years. Amazingly, more than 30 years later, both the Stones and Honeyboy are still going strong. By the time I graduated I had 3,000 blues LPs and decided to move to a blues metropolis. I ended up in Chicago in June, 1972. In the fall of that year, amazed to see their names in the paper, I went to a performance of Honeyboy Edwards and Jim Brewer at Biddy Mulligan's bar. I started hanging out at Honeyboy's house jamming the blues on harmonica with him.
Honeyboy became my introduction to the elders of the Chicago scene, and through him, I met Sunnyland Slim, Floyd Jones, and Walter Horton, three of his closest friends. (The closeness of their relationship can be heard on Earwig CD4902 Old Friends, where they play together, along with Kansas City Red on drums.) I started getting Honeyboy bookings, the first one being at a Saint Patrick's Day party in an Irish neighborhood.
Honeyboy became my mentor and window to the inner sanctum of the bluesman's life, giving me an experience that few people ever have. I became his manager "on a handshake," and still am, 25 years later. Over the years he and I have been in many parts of the world and I have heard him play too many times to count. Often he played such intricate and passionate runs that I got chills and stopped playing harmonica to listen in amazement at his dexterity.
I have also been blessed to hear his precise recollections about all the people, places, and events he has seen and to hear his philosophy of life. This recording and his autobiography The World Don't Owe Me Nothing (which he told to me and Janis Martinson on tape) are the culmination of my 25-year relationship with Honeyboy.
David Honeyboy Edwards has been playing the blues non-stop since 1932 and in all the years of our acquaintance has been playing many of the tunes heard on this album. He sounds as strong today as he did when I met him in 1972. And if you listen to his 1942 Library of Congress recordings, released on Earwig CD4922, and then see him play live, you will be amazed at his prowess and won't believe he is 82.
This album attempts to bring the world into the experience I have been privy to. His autobiography will captivate you as will his music. Honeyboy is a walking archivist and juke box of the blues experience. This record, recorded (with the exception of one song and one story) on August 2, 1997, brings out his musical vitality and the entrancing history which he embodies.
To inspire the musicians, to create a mood, and to celebrate Honeyboy's 65 years as a professional musician, I decided to record live in the same room of the building (formerly known as the Leland Hotel of Aurora, Illinois) where e RCA Victor in 1937-38 recorded many of Honeyboy's friends for the Bluebird label. The spirits of Tampa Red, Washboard Sam, John Lee "Sonny Boy" Williamson, Yank Rachell, Henry Townsend, Robert Nighthawk, Jazz Gillum, and Honeyboy's mentor Big Joe Williams hung heavy in the air as Honeyboy pounded out tunes and spun stories, accompanied by his harmonica playing friends Carey Bell and Rick Sherry.
Everyone had a great time and the audience felt privileged to be in the presence of a true living legend. Honey, as he is affectionately called by his close friends, reveled in the attention and once again asserted one of his favorite sayings, "The World Don't Owe Me Nothing."
Pick up his book and this record and dig deep into the true meaning of the blues. Like a catchy melody which plays over and over in your head, you will have a most memorable aural experience.
Michael Robert Frank,Producer and CEO,Earwig Music Company
David Honeyboy Edwards:Guitar and Vocals
Carey Bell Harrington, harmonica on tracks 1, 4, 5 ,6, 8, 10, 12 & vocals on track 14
Rick Sherry, harmonica on track 2 & washboard on tracks 6, 15
All tracks recorded live at Fox Island Place, Sky Club, formerly the Leland Hotel, Aurora, Illinois August 2, 1997. Recorded, mixed, edited, and mastered by Blaise Barton except tracks 3 and 15, recorded live at Waubonsee Community College, February 6, 7, 8, 1996 by Derek Trotter, Deidre Nelson, and John Ponzo of Aurora Community TV
Front cover photo by Ovie Carter, courtesy of the Chicago Tribune; book cover photos by Cedric Chatterly
Book cover design by Joan Sommers
Original CD Design by Terran Doehrer, Earth Star Graphics, Evanston, IL
Redesign by Al Brandtner Design, Chicago, IL
© P 1997 Earwig Music Company, Inc.
Special thanks to Mark Baum. President of the Fox Valley Blues Society, for assistance and support, without which this live recording would not have been possible. Thanks also to: Chet and Nancy Niesel, owners of Fox Island Place for use of the Sky Club; Aurora Mayor David L. Stover; Charlie Zine, President of the Aurora Historical Society; Ellen Palmer at the Aurora Convention and Tourism Council; David Fey for live sound; Jennifer Howard, Derek Trotter, and the crew from ACTV, Aurora, for taping the event. Thanks to The Different Strummer and George Hansen for providing acoustic guitars. Thanks also to Charlie Hoovler, Concert Producer & Manager, Riverfront Blues & Jazz Festival, Lafayette, Indiana for hospitality and for the expedited use of master tapes considered for this CD
Honeyboy Edwards has three other CDs on Earwig: 4902 Old Friends, 4922 Delta Bluesman, and 4954 Roamin’ And Ramblin’. His autobiography The World Don’t Owe Me Nothing, released in September 1997, is published by Chicago Review Press and can be ordered by phone (800) 888-4741, or by mail from Earwig Music Company or in finer book and record stores worldwide
1.West Helena Blues (4:26) Roosevelt Sykes, Leric Music
2.Walkin' Blues (4:54) Robert Leroy Johnson, King of Spades Music
3.Robert Johnson Story (4:14) David Edwards, Earwig Music
4.Catfish Blues (2 :29) Robert Petway, MCA Duchess Music Corp./Wabash Music Corp.
5.Every Now And Then (4:10) David Edwards, Earwig Music
6.My Mama Told Me (4:05) David Edwards, Earwig Music
7.Crossroads (3:24) Robert Leroy Johnson, King of Spades Music
8.Too Many Drivers (2:47) Lightnin' Hopkins, Prestige Music
9.Robert Nighthawk Story (1:06) David Edwards, Earwig Music
10.You're The One (3:16) James A. Lane, Arc Music Corp.
11.Comin' To Chicago Story (0:41) David Edwards, Earwig Music
12.Sweet Home Chicago (3:09) Robert Leroy Johnson, King of Spades Music, with additional words and music by David Edwards, Earwig Music
13.Carey Bell Story (2:24) David Edwards, Earwig Music
14.So Hard To Leave You (4:28) Carey Bell Harrington, Big B
15.Hide Away (3:41) Freddie King & Sonny Thompson, Trio/Fort Knox Music.