83 years ago today, April 28th, 1934, Charley Patton passed on. Often called The Father of The Blues He left a legacy of American music as well as being the inspiration for many Delta Blues singers. It’s been argued over the years that he spelt his name as Charlie yet the record labels spelt it as Charley. It’s also been claimed that no one really knew what the hell he was singing about most of the time.
Like most blues musicians, no one seems to know his date of birth. It varies between 1881 and 1891. What is know is that he was born in Hinds County, Mississippi.
He was different in appearance, but was considered African-American although because of his light complexion he was also thought to be Mexican or Cherokee! Growing up on the famous Dockery Plantation where he developed his musical style. It was, at the time, considered unusual, but we have since learned that it was an early form of the blues.
He was soon playing with the likes of Robert Johnson and Howlin’ Wolf. Apparently, he was 5′ 5″ tall but made up his stature with a voice that could be heard 500 yards away! When he died, he was buried in Holly Ridge. He never had a headstone until 1990 which was paid for by musician John Fogerty.
He recorded many songs, from Pony Blues in 1929 to Hang It On The Wall which was recorded in New York City in 1934. Canned Heat covered the Charley Patton songs, Pony Blues, Shake It and Break It, and Yellow Bee. Bob Dylan dedicated High Water (For Charley Patton) on his 2001 album, Love and Theft.