Personalities | Daddy Stovepipe | Early Years | Jazz & Blues
(Vocals, harmonica, guitar, 1867–1963)
Daddy Stovepipe – a.k.a. Mobile, Alabama native Johnny Watson – is an obscure figure, with only a scattering of recording sessions to his credit, but he represents an important era of blues and pre-blues music. He was not only one of the first downhome blues performers to record (in 1924), but his 1867 birth date is the earliest yet documented for any artist in the blues discographies: he was, in fact, decades older than the blues genre itself.
His recorded work has much in common with the jug-band melodies of Memphis, a similarity enhanced by the addition of his wife, Mississippi Sarah, on vocals and jug during the 1930s. Watson performed as a one-man band on streets and in medicine shows in Mississippi, Texas and elsewhere, before going to Chicago, where he played for tips on Maxwell Street. He was one of at least three pre-war bluesmen to record using the name Stovepipe, either in reference to the stovepipe hat or a stovepipe used as a musical instrument.
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