Personalities | Tampa Red | Thirties | Jazz & Blues

(Guitar, piano, kazoo, vocals, 1904–81)

Hudson Woodbridge was born in Smithville, Georgia; he changed his surname to Whittaker when he went to Tampa, Florida to live with his maternal grandmother. A self-taught musician, he worked juke joints throughout Florida in the early 1920s, before moving to Chicago in 1925. He made his recording debut as Tampa Red for Paramount in 1928. He then teamed with Georgia Tom Dorsey, later a major gospel songwriter, and recorded extensively for Vocalion until 1932, creating blues standards such as ‘It’s Tight Like That’.

Red also recorded as a soloist, in a successful duo with pianist Big Maceo Merriweather and in jug-band settings. He recorded for Bluebird in 1934 and remained with Bluebird/RCA Victor until 1953, cutting more than 220 titles including the blues standard ‘It Hurts Me Too’. Devastated by the death of Frances, his wife and manager, in the mid-1950s, Tampa Red lost interest in music but did make two solo LPs for Prestige/Bluesville in 1960.

Styles & Forms | Thirties | Jazz & Blues
Personalities | Art Tatum | Thirties | Jazz & Blues

Source: The Definitive Illustrated Encyclopedia of Jazz & Blues, founding editor Howard Mandel


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