Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Robert Lockwood Junior

Robert Lockwood Jr.

Robert Jr passed away. Robert Jr was a true innovator. His impact on Blues and popular music may never be truly measured. He was one of
the most amazing and innovative Blues men of modern time. His impact of modern day Blues goes unnoticed. He style was subtle and laid the foundation for the generation that followed.

He was in Arkansas and was an influence on BB King. He was in Chicago during the time that the post war style was being defined. He and Louis Myers set the standard on how to back harmonica players. He was an integral part of Little Walter and Sonny Boy Williamson's classic Chess recordings.

He had several classic recordings of his own. He was an influence on a multitude of guitar players. He combined great tone and technique. He wasn't an in-your-face flashy kind of guy like many current crop of rock-influenced guitar players. He was simply great!

I consider myself fortunate to have seen him several times. The first time was in Chicago. He was playing his 12 string electric and was being backed by the Aces. Louis Myers, Dave Myers and Fred Below. It was an awesome evening of music. The interplay between Robert Jr and Louis was nothing short of incredible.

Another time that stood out was at the old Yoshi's in Oakland. He was billed on the show with Jimmy Rogers. He ended up playing a solo set of old time Blues. He mixed in some Robert Johnson material with some of his own classic recordings. I thought it was amazing how one guy could captivate an audience and steal the show. It was a fabulous evening of music that touched the sould and could best be described as intimate.

Several years ago, the Chicago Blues Festival featured members of the blues community that were born in 1915. There were still a few people around from that time. Sadly, there aren't many people left from his generation. Honeyboy Edwards, Pinetop Perkins and Homesick James may be the only ones left.

It's likely that he will never receive the credit or recognition that he is due. While I have a great deal of respect of Robert Johnson, I find it sad that his short period of time with the legend eclipsed an amazing, powerful and influential career. Robert Jr was one of the greatest guitar players that I've ever seen.

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