Louisiana Red – Orphanage Home Blues
Iverson Minter, 23 March 1936, Vicksburg, Mississippi, USA. Although beginning as a sincere imitator of his various heroes, including Muddy Waters, Lightnin’ Hopkins and John Lee Hooker, Louisiana Red has gained stature of his own as an instinctive and creative blues singer and guitarist. Red spent his earliest years in a variety of orphanages, his mother having died a week after his birth, and his estranged father a victim of Ku Klux Klan violence. Raised in Pittsburgh by an aunt, Corrine Driver, he owned his first guitar at the age of 11 and had instruction from the veteran Crit Walters. At the age of 16, he joined the army and served in Korea. On his return, although claiming to have recorded with Waters and Little Walter, his first known record, ‘Gonna Play My Guitar’, was released under the name of Playboy Fuller on his own Fuller label. Another session for Checker as Rocky Fuller yielded a single, ‘Soon One Morning’; further titles were reissued during the 80s. Working alongside Hooker and Eddie Kirkland, he gained a reputation as ‘a guitar fiend’.
Much of the 50s was spent travelling throughout the south. In 1960 he moved to New Jersey and made his first record as Louisiana Red for Atlas; ‘I Done Woke Up’ was backed by James Wayne And The Nighthawks. After recording an unissued session for Bobby Robinson’s Fury label, Red was signed to Roulette in 1962 by veteran producer Henry Glover, and the subsequent album, The Lowdown Backporch Blues, brought him much critical praise. During 1965 he was comprehensively recorded for Festival Records by Herb Abramson, from which the Atco Records album Louisiana Red Sings The Blues was assembled. Further titles appeared on the Red Lightnin’ Hot Sauce album. Other sessions took place in 1967, 1971 and 1973. He recorded a number of sessions in 1975 for Blue Labor, from which two volumes of The Blues Purity Of Louisiana Red were issued; he also participated on albums by Peg Leg Sam Jackson, Johnny Shines, Roosevelt Sykes and Brownie McGhee. In 1976 he moved to Germany, where he has remained, touring Europe extensively and recording for several labels including Black Panther, JSP, L+R, Orchid, MMG and Blues Beacon. He is a dependable if mercurial performer, his spontaneity sometimes a brick wall but often a springboard.