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Fred McDowell Facts

Fred McDowell: The Mississippi Delta Bluesman

Fred McDowell, born in Rossville, Tennessee in 1904, became a prominent figure in the blues music scene during the 1960s. His music was played in juke joints and bars throughout the Mississippi Delta and his influence can still be heard on countless recordings. In this article, we will explore his life, career, and legacy.

Singer’s Bio

Fred McDowell was born in the rural community of Rossville, Tennessee, on January 12, 1904. He learned to play the guitar at an early age and began playing his music in local juke joints. Throughout his life, he worked as a farmer and as a railroad worker to support himself and his family. Despite his humble beginnings, McDowell became a well-known blues musician, recording his music for labels such as Arhoolie Records and Testament Records. He died in 1972, at the age of 68.

Relationships and Children

Fred McDowell was married twice and had several children. His first marriage was to Annie Mae in the 1920s. They had two children, a son, and a daughter, before divorcing. McDowell’s second marriage was to Rose Hill, whom he married in 1935. They had ten children together, seven of whom survived to adulthood.

Height and Appearance

Fred McDowell was a tall man, standing at six feet, two inches. He had a distinctive appearance, often wearing a hat and a suit during performances.

Career

Fred McDowell spent most of his life working as a farmer and a railroad worker. However, his love of music never left him and he continued to play the guitar at local juke joints and house parties. It wasn’t until the 1960s that he gained national recognition for his music. In 1962, he was invited to perform at the Newport Folk Festival and his performance was met with critical acclaim. This led to more performances and recordings. McDowell’s music was hailed for its raw, unfiltered sound and his unique style of playing the guitar. He continued to perform until his death in 1972.

Top Songs

Fred McDowell is known for many classic blues songs that continue to be played today. Some of his most famous songs include:

  • “You Gotta Move”
  • “Kokomo Blues”
  • “61 Highway”
  • “When I Lay My Burden Down”
  • “Shake ‘Em On Down”

Net Worth

There is no available information about Fred McDowell’s net worth. However, his influence on the blues music genre continues today, as his music is played by musicians around the world.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What kind of guitar did Fred McDowell play?

Fred McDowell played a steel-guitar, which has a distinctive sound that is different from a traditional acoustic guitar. He often used a slide, which allowed him to create a unique sound that was raw and unfiltered.

How did Fred McDowell’s music influence other musicians?

Fred McDowell’s music has had a lasting impact on the blues music scene. His raw, unfiltered sound and his unique style of playing the guitar have inspired countless musicians. For example, the Rolling Stones covered his song “You Gotta Move” on their 1971 album, “Sticky Fingers”. Other musicians, such as Bonnie Raitt and Jack White, have also cited McDowell as a major influence on their work.

What was Fred McDowell’s musical style?

Fred McDowell’s musical style was a mix of traditional blues and gospel music. He played the guitar in a unique style, using a slide to create a sound that was raw and unfiltered. His music was often played at juke joints and house parties, where people would dance and enjoy the music.

Did Fred McDowell win any awards?

Fred McDowell did not win any major awards during his lifetime. However, his influence on the blues music genre has been recognized posthumously. In 1991, he was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame, which is one of the highest honors for blues musicians.

What led to Fred McDowell’s national recognition in the 1960s?

Fred McDowell’s national recognition came after he was invited to perform at the Newport Folk Festival in 1962. His performance was met with critical acclaim and he soon began performing at other festivals and recording his music for major labels. This helped to bring his raw, unfiltered sound to a larger audience.

What was Fred McDowell’s relationship with the Civil Rights Movement?

Fred McDowell’s music often dealt with the struggles of African Americans in the South, including issues such as poverty, discrimination, and segregation. Although he did not participate in the Civil Rights Movement directly, his music helped to give voice to those who were struggling for change.

Did Fred McDowell ever collaborate with other musicians?

Fred McDowell did collaborate with other musicians throughout his career. For example, he recorded an album with the blues musician, Johnny Woods, called “Mississippi Delta Blues”. He also performed with other musicians at festivals and other events.

What was Fred McDowell’s connection to Alan Lomax?

Alan Lomax, a renowned folklorist and musicologist, first met Fred McDowell in 1959 when he was documenting traditional music in the South. Lomax recognized the unique talent in McDowell’s music and helped to bring it to a wider audience. He recorded some of McDowell’s music for the Library of Congress and helped him to secure recording contracts with major labels.

What makes Fred McDowell’s music so unique?

Fred McDowell’s music is unique because of its raw, unfiltered sound and the way he played the guitar. His use of a steel guitar and a slide created a sound that was raw and emotional. His music often dealt with the struggles of African Americans in the South and connected with people on a deeply personal level.

What impact did Fred McDowell have on the blues music scene?

Fred McDowell is considered to be one of the most important figures in the blues music scene. His music helped to give voice to the struggles of African Americans in the South and his unique style of playing the guitar inspired countless musicians. He is still regarded as an important influence on the blues music scene today.

Did Fred McDowell ever tour outside of the United States?

Fred McDowell did tour outside of the United States during his career. He performed in Europe in the 1960s and was well-received by audiences there. His performances helped to bring the raw, unfiltered sound of blues music to a wider audience.

What do people say about Fred McDowell?

“Fred McDowell was the most honest blues musician I ever heard.” – Ry Cooder, American musician and producer

“Fred McDowell’s music is elemental, tribal, intuitive, and unforced… In his voice, a smile and a moan are one and the same.” – Greil Marcus, music journalist

What legacy has Fred McDowell left?

Fred McDowell has left a lasting legacy in the blues music scene. His music continues to be played today by musicians around the world, and his influence can be heard in countless recordings. He is regarded as one of the most important figures in the blues music genre, and his legacy continues to inspire new generations of musicians.

What is the best place to start listening to Fred McDowell’s music?

If you’re new to Fred McDowell’s music, a good place to start is with his album “You Gotta Move”. This album includes some of his most famous songs, including the title track, and gives a good sense of his raw, unfiltered sound.

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