HEY LOCO FANS – Happy birthday to blues guitarist Theodore “Ted” Bogan born on May 10, 1909 in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
His career spanned over 50 years and during that time developed a finger-picking guitar style that was much admired. He played in various string bands for most of his career, including Martin, Bogan & Armstrong.
He learned to play a finger-picking style of guitar in his adolescence, being initially influenced by Leroy Carr and Blind Blake, both of whom he heard on his family’s radio set. It is claimed that he began performing in a medicine show, and appeared on radio broadcasts in Spartanburg.
After meeting Carl Martin, Bogan moved to Knoxville, Tennessee. They played extensively on street corners, with Bogan enhancing his guitar playing to incorporate flatpicking. His first recordings were made for Bluebird Records in 1934, joining him was Howard Armstrong, who he met four years earlier. They recorded “State Street Rag” and “Ted’s Stomp” with Armstrong using the stage name Louie Bluie, which had been given to him by a fan.
In the 40s they appeared as part of the Four Keys, who toured in the Midwest. Later in Chicago they recorded as the backing group for Bumble Bee Slim. They performed for years in several acoustic string band formats under different names. The group played a mixture of musical genres and styles, including the blues, jazz, pop, country, and various non-English favorite melodies.
In the 70s, a revival of interest in string bands saw Bogan and Martin still based in Chicago. In 1974, Martin, Bogan & Armstrong played at the 36th National Folk Festival, at Wolf Trap Farm Park in Vienna, Virginia. Martin died in 1979, but Bogan and Armstrong continued until Bogan’s death.
Bogan and Armstrong appeared and performed in the 1985 documentary film Louie Bluie, directed by Terry Zwigoff, who had been inspired to seek them out after listening to “State Street Rag”.
In January of 1990 Bogan died in Detroit, Michigan, he was 80 years old.