TexasEscapes.comTexas Escapes Online Magazine: Travel and History
Columns: History, Humor, Topical and Opinion
Over 1400 Texas Towns & Ghost Towns
NEW : : TEXAS TOWNS : : GHOST TOWNS : : FEATURES : : COLUMNS : : ARCHITECTURE : : IMAGES : : SITE MAP
HOME
SEARCH SITE
ARCHIVES
FORUM
RESERVATIONS
Texas Hotels
Hotels
Cars
Air
Cruises
 
 Texas : Features : Columns : All Things Historical

Blind Lemon

by Bob Bowman
Bob Bowman

When folk singer Jeff Muldour recently appeared on a national radio program with a song about looking for Blind Lemon's grave, he struck a familiar chord in East Texas.

Born on the western fringes of East Texas in 1897, Blind Lemon Jefferson was one of our most famous blues musicians. It has been said that his music and distinctive vocal style influenced such greats as Louis Armstrong, Bessie Smith, Tommy Dorsey, Harris James and Bix Beiderbecke. He also encouraged Sam "Lightning" Hopkins when Hopkins was only an eight-year-old boy in Buffalo.

Muldour's song on National Public Radio's Prairie Home Companion was about a young musician who embarks on a journey from New Orleans to East Texas, looking for Blind Lemon's burial spot. He never finds it.

Blind Lemon was born in the Freestone County settlement of Coutchman, the blind son of Alec and Cassie Jefferson. He had no formal music education and instead traveled from place to place in Freestone and Limestone counties, playing his guitar and singing songs, most of which were his own compositions.

He later moved to the Dallas-Fort Worth area and became a well-known figure in the Deep Ellum district of Dallas. There, he met Huddie Ledbetter, better known as Leadbelly, and for a time they played in brothels throughout Texas.

Jefferson was discovered by a talent scout for Paramount Records while in Dallas and was lured to Chicago. He made 79 blues and jazz records for Paramount in the 1920s, each estimated to have sold 100,000 copies. He also made two recordings under he Okeh label.

Blind Lemon's songs included "Matchbox Blues" and "Black Snake Moan", both blues classics. He also recorded spirituals under the pseudonym Deacon L.J. Bates, and was inducted into the Blues Foundation's Hall of Fame in 1980.

Recognized as one of the earliest representatives of the classic blues, he was considered one of the finest folk singers of his day.

Blind Lemon died of a heart attack during a Chicago snowstorm in 1929, but there was no death certificate and the exact date of his death is unknown.

Jefferson was buried in the black cemetery at Wortham, about 18 miles west of Fairfield in Freestone County. One of his best-known songs was "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean". The good folks of Freestone County have dutifully followed his wishes.

In association with Amazon.com
Blind Lemon Jefferson Music CD
If this box does not dispay books, click "Refresh" button on your browser
All Things Historical >
MARCH 25-31, 2001
Published by permission.
A syndicated column in over 40 East Texas newspapers

(Bob Bowman is a former president of the East Texas Historical Association and the author of 24 books on East Texas history and folklore.)
 
TEXAS TOWN LIST | TEXAS GHOST TOWNS
Texas Hill Country | East Texas | Central Texas North | Central Texas South |
West Texas | Texas Panhandle | South Texas | Texas Gulf Coast
TRIPS | State Parks | Rivers | Lakes | Drives | Maps | LODGING

TEXAS FEATURES
Ghosts | People | Historic Trees | Cemeteries | Small Town Sagas | WWII |
History | Black History | Rooms with a Past | Music | Animals | Books | MEXICO
COLUMNS : History, Humor, Topical and Opinion

TEXAS ARCHITECTURE | IMAGES
Courthouses | Jails | Churches | Gas Stations | Schoolhouses | Bridges | Theaters | Monuments/Statues | Depots | Water Towers | Post Offices | Grain Elevators |
Lodges | Museums | Stores | Banks | Gargoyles | Corner Stones | Pitted Dates |
Drive-by Architecture | Old Neon | Murals | Signs | Ghost Signs

TRAVEL RESERVATIONS
TEXAS HOTELS | Hotels | Cars | Air | Cruises | USA


Privacy Statement | Disclaimer | Recommend Us | Links
Contributors | Staff | About Us | Contact TE |
TEXAS ESCAPES ONLINE MAGAZINE
HOME
Website Content Copyright 1998-2006. Texas Escapes - Blueprints For Travel, LLC. All Rights Reserved
This page last modified: July 24, 2006