Blind Lemon Jefferson Biography

Guitarist, Singer(1893–1929)
Blind Lemon Jefferson was best known for his singing and song writing as a blues guitarist.

Synopsis

Blind Lemon Jefferson was born on September 24, 1893, in Coutchman, Texas, to sharecroppers. Early, on he became an itinerant singer of the blues throughout the South, eventually making his way to Chicago, Illinois. He would become popular on the Paramount record label in the late 1920s, acquiring disciples like Lead Belly.

Early Life

Born on September 24, 1893, in Coutchman, Texas, singer and guitarist Blind Lemon Jefferson was one of the most influential blues performers of the early 20th century. He is considered one of the founders of Texas blues and a leading figure in country blues. According to allmusic.com, Jefferson was born blind and was one of seven children. His parents were sharecroppers.

In his teens, Jefferson began performing in Dallas. There he met another future blues legend, Huddie Ledbetter, better known as Lead Belly. The pair worked together for a short time. In the 1920s, Jefferson married Roberta Ransom, according to the Texas State Historical Association.

Musical Success Story

Discovered by a talent scout in 1925, Jefferson soon went to Chicago to launch his recording career. He put down more than 90 tracks, mostly for the Paramount label. Jefferson helped popularized blues across the country with such songs as "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean," "Black Snake Moan" and "Matchbox Blues."

In addition to blues, Jefferson also recorded several gospel tunes, such as "I Want to Be Like Jesus in My Heart," under the name Deacon L. J. Bates. He toured extensively as well, playing gigs in his native Texas and other parts of the South.

Death and Legacy

Jefferson died on December 19, 1929, in Chicago, Illinois. His exact cause of death is unknown. Reports vary from him suffering a heart attack during a snowstorm to being in a car accident. His body was returned to Texas, where he was buried in an unmarked grave in Wortham. It wasn't until 1967 that Jefferson's grave site received a proper memorial.

Although his career was brief, Jefferson has served an important influence on a range of performers, including B. B. King, Lightin' Hopkins and Bob Dylan. His songs have been covered by the likes of the Beatles and Carl Perkins. Jefferson was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame in 1980.

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