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David "Honeyboy" Edwards

June 28, 1915 - Aug. 29, 2011

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Mississippi-born guitarist and singer David “Honeyboy” Edwards was one of the last survivors of the generation that produced classic blues performers such as Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf and Lightnin' Hopkins. Dr. Barry Lee Pearson called Edwards “a vital link between early Delta blues, the golden age of Chicago blues and the current blues revival.” Front cover of Folkways FS 3539, photograph by Anton J. Mikofsky
David 'Honeyboy' Edwards, front cover of *Crawling Kingsnake*, Testament Records. TCD 6002
David 'Honeyboy' Edwards, courtesy National Endowment for the Arts
David 'Honeyboy' Edwards, photograph by Alan Govenar

David “Honeyboy” Edwards grew up in Shaw, Mississippi. He was one of last living members of the generation that produced such vital blues performers as Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf and Lightnin' Hopkins.

Edwards first learned music from his father, Henry Edwards, who played guitar and violin at country dances and juke joints. When Edwards was 14, he began touring with Mississippi bluesman Big Joe Williams. Over the next few years, Edwards met and played with performers such as Tommy Johnson, Charley Patton, Tommy McClennan and Robert Johnson, as well as the Memphis Jug Band.  
 Edwards first recorded in 1942 in Clarksdale, Mississippi, for the folklorist Alan Lomax, who was doing field recording for the Library of Congress.  During the 1940s and early 1950s, Edwards moved to Helena, Arkansas, Memphi, and St. Louis. On regular forays to the blues Mecca of Chicago, he performed on Maxwell Street, an outdoor market that drew musicians in warm weather. In Houston in 1951, he recorded the minor hits “Mr. Honey” and “Build Myself a Cave.”

For a number of years, Edwards lived the life of an itinerant bluesman. “I used to walk all through the country,” he told Dr. Barry Lee Pearson. “I'd play a little town. I had it mapped out like I wouldn’t play the same town every Saturday. I'd play on the street corners, you know, and people would give me quarters, nickels and pennies to play different numbers.” Recalling that Robert Johnson was poisoned by a jealous man, Edwards learned to be wary of women who attached themselves to musicians.
 In 1953 Edwards moved to Chicago, where he took up electric guitar and played with a band. He recorded “Drop Down Mama” for the Chess label and became a part of the city’s vital blues scene. As blues lost its popularity among black audiences, Edwards began performing for white audiences in clubs and at festivals and was among the guest artists on the album Fleetwood Mac in Chicago. 
 “No other artist has contributed as much as a musician, witness and historical source in the overall process of keeping it alive,” Pearson says. “He remains a vital link between early Delta blues, the golden age of Chicago blues and the current blues revival.”

Bibliography
Pearson, Barry Lee. Jook Right On: Blues Stories and Blues Storytellers. Tennessee: University of Tennessee Press (2005).
Palmer, Robert. “David Honeyboy Edwards.” New York Times (1976).

Discography
Edwards, David. I’ve Been Around. Trix 3319.
_____. Shake ’Em On Down. Analogue Productions Originals APO 2010.
_____. Crawling Kingsnake. Testament TCD 6002.
_____. Don’t Mistreat a Fool. Genes GCD 9914.
_____. The World Don’t Owe Me Nothing. Earwig CD4940.
_____. Mississippi Delta Bluesman. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings CD40132.

Watch

David 'Honeyboy' Edwards, 2002 National Heritage Fellowship Concert, Washington, D.C., cdurtesy National Endowment for the Arts

David 'Honeyboy' Edwards, courtesy National Endowment for the Arts


Listen

David 'Honeyboy' Edwards answers the question 'How would you describe your style of blues?' Arlington, Virginia, 2002, interview by Alan Govenar

David 'Honeyboy' Edwards answers the question 'What was it like growing up in the Mississippi Delta?' Arlington, Virginia, 2002, interview by Alan Govenar

David 'Honeyboy' Edwards answers the question 'When did you get it in your head that you wanted to leave Mississippi?' Arlington, Virginia, 2002, interview by Alan Govenar

David 'Honeyboy' Edwards answers the question 'Who else did you record with?' Arlington, Virginia, 2002, interview by Alan Govenar

David 'Honeyboy' Edwards answers the question 'How did you meet the Chess brothers?' Arlington, Virginia, 2002, interview by Alan Govenar

David 'Honeyboy' Edwards answers the question 'Do you have any memories of Robert Johnson?' Arlington, Virginia, 2002, interview by Alan Govenar

David 'Honeyboy' Edwards answers the question 'How did you get the nickname 'Honeyboy'?' Arlington, Virginia, 2002, interview by Alan Govenar

David 'Honeyboy' Edwards answers the question 'What was it like playing with the Memphis Jug Band?' Arlington, Virginia, 2002, interview by Alan Govenar

David 'Honeyboy' Edwards answers the question 'When did you start playing music?' Arlington, Virginia, 2002, interview by Alan Govenar

David 'Honeyboy' Edwards, 'Myrtle Mae,' Don't Mistreat A Fool, 1999 Genes Cd Co., GCD 9914

David 'Honeyboy' Edwards, 'Walkin Blues,' The World Don't Owe Me Nothing, 1997 Earwig Music Company, Inc., EARWIG CD4940

David 'Honeyboy' Edwards, 'Louise Louise Blues,' Shake 'Em On Down, 2000 Acoustic Sounds, Inc., APO 2010

David 'Honeyboy' Edwards, 'Bull Cow Blues.' Crawling Kingsnake, 1997 Testament Records, TCD 6002

David 'Honeyboy' Edwards, 'Big Road Blues,' I've Been Around, 1995 Trix Records, TRIX 3319