A Month of Blues History
December

This is the history of the blues – one month at a time.

1900-1929

December 12, 1918 – Joe Williams [Joseph Goreed], American jazz singer (Everyday I have the Blues), born in Cordele, Georgia (d. 1999).

December 19, 1918 – Professor Longhair [Henry Roeland Byrd], American blues singer and pianist, born in Bogalusa, Louisiana (d. 1980).

December 10, 1926 – Guitar Slim [Eddie Jones], blues guitarist (“The Things That I Used to Do”), born in Greenwood, Mississippi (d. 1959).

December 11, 1926 – Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton, American rhythm-and-blues singer and songwriter (Hound Dog, Ball & Chain, Stronger than Dirt), born in Ariton, Alabama (d. 1984).

December 12, 1928 – Lonesome Sundown [Cornelius Green III], American blues singer and guitarist, born in Donaldsonville, Louisiana (d. 1995).

December 28, 1928 – Last recording of Ma Rainey, “Mother of the Blues,” made.

December 19, 1929 – Lemon Henry “Blind Lemon” Jefferson, American blues singer and guitarist, dies at 36.

1930-1939

December 29, 1933 – Prez “Kidd” Kenneth, American blues singer/guitarist.

December 1, 1934 – American blues and ragtime guitarist Arthur ‘Blind’ Blake died from tuberculosis in Milwaukee, Wisconsin at the age of 38.

December 9, 1934 – [Amos] Junior Wells, blues singer (In My Younger Days), born in Memphis, Tennessee.

December 4, 1936 – Larry Davis, American blues singer and guitarist, born in Kansas City, Missouri (d. 1994).

December 22, 1939 – Ma Rainey [Gertrude Pridgett], American singer “Mother of the Blues”, dies at 53.

1940-1949

December 27, 1941 – Mike Pinder [Michael Thomas Pinder], English keyboard player and Mellotron pioneer (Moody Blues-Nights in White Satin), born in Birmingham, England.

December 29, 1941 – Ray Thomas, English rock vocalist and flautist (Moody Blues-Legend Of A Mind), born in Stourport-on-Severn, United Kingdom (d. 2018).

December 17, 1942 – Paul Butterfield, blues musician (Better Days), born in Chicago, Illinois.

December 25, 1942 – Barry Goldberg, American blues musician (The Rides), born in Chicago, Illinois.

December 9, 1945 – Michael Nouri, actor (Beacon Hill, Bay City Blues), born in Washington, D.C..

December 6, 1949 – Lead Belly, [Huddie William Ledbetter], blues singer, dies at 64.

1950-1959

December 3, 1955 – Charles “Cow Cow” Davenport, American boogie-woogie and blues musician, dies of hardening of the arteries at 61.

December 15, 1955 – “Folsom Prison Blues” single released by Johnny Cash (Billboard Song of the Year 1968).

December 8, 1956 – Guy Mitchell’s “Singing the Blues” single goes #1 for 10 weeks.

December 14, 1958 – Mike Scott, Scottish rocker (Blues Inc, Waterboys-Rainbow Warrior), born in Edinburgh, Scotland.

1960-1979

December 13, 1964 – Lucky Peterson [Judge Kenneth Peterson], American musician (The Son of a Bluesman), born in Buffalo, New York.

December 1, 1969 – Magic Sam, American blues guitarist and singer (b. 1937).

December 17, 1975 – Hound Dog Taylor [Theodore Roosevelt], American Chicago blues guitarist and singer, dies of lung cancer at 60.

December 28, 1976 – Freddie King, American blues singer (Hideaway), dies at 42.

December 12, 1978 – Clifton Chenier, American blues singer (Bayou Blues), dies at 53.

1980-1999

December 8, 1981 – Big Walter Horton, American blues harmonica player (Everybody’s Fishin’), dies of heart failure at 64.

December 1, 1989 – Alvin Ailey, US choreographer (Blues Suite, Revelations), dies at 58.

December 21, 1992 – Albert King [Nelson], American blues guitarist and singer (BB King & Friends, Blues Alive), dies of a heart attack at 69.

December 28, 1995 – Maxwell Street Jimmy Davis [Charles Thompson], American blues musician (Cold Hands), dies of a heart attack at 70.

December 19, 1997 – Jimmy Rogers, American blues musician (Muddy Waters’ Band) dies at 73.

2000- Present

December 17, 2004 – Dick Heckstall-Smith, English jazz-blues saxophonist, dies at 70.

December 20, 2004 – Son [Frank] Seals, American blues musician (Nothing But the Truth) dies from diabetes complications at 62.

December 25, 2006 – James Brown, rhythm & blues, gospel, jazz, soul and funk singer or simply The Godfather of Soul (Genius of Love, Hot Pants) dies of heart failure at 73.

December 4, 2011 – Hubert Sumlin, American blues guitarist (b. 1931).