Bluesman was a peer of
Robert Johnson and a celebrated performer in his own right.
By Fred Mills
Chicago-based Delta bluesman David “Honeyboy” Edwards passed
away yesterday, Aug. 29, at the age of 96, from congestive heart failure. Media
reports indicate that he had a weak heart and he’d recently suffered a series
of health issues that, in May, led him to cancel all his concerts for the
remainder of the year.
Edwards was born in 1915 I Mississippi and by the age of 14
was living the life of a traveling musician, performing with Big Joe Williams,
Charley Patton, Tommy Johnson, Johnny Shines – and Robert Johnson. He’s said to
have been on hand when Johnson died from drinking poisoned whiskey, and he told
some of his stories about Johnson in the ’91 documentary The Search for Robert Johnson.
He recorded a number of albums over the years, including
tracks for Alan Lomax’s Library of Congress collection, was inducted into the
Blues Hall of Fame in ’96, and he also wrote a memoir in 1997 titled You Don’t Owe Me Nothing. His label,
Earwig Music, issued an album of the same name, and the book and CD helped
raise Edwards’ profile once again, leading him to be profiled in numerous music
publications and notch a series of music awards over the course of the next
decade. In 2007, he also appeared in the music mockumentary Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.
[Photo from 2008 by Bengt Nyman, via Wikimedia Commons]