Blues singer’s violent life and lasting legacy

Early 1900s chain gang convict Lead Belly was a huge influence on The Beatles and many others bands.

George Harrison simply stated: “No Lead Belly, no Beatles.”

Folk and blues singer Huddie Ledbetter, born January 23, 1888, in Louisiana and known by his stage name Lead Belly (also given as Leadbelly), was the master of the twelve-string guitar.

Lead Belly also played the piano, mandolin, harmonica and violin, and accompanied his singing by clapping his hands or stomping his foot.

In the early 1900s, he performed in Shreveport’s St. Paul’s Bottoms, a rough red-light district of saloons, brothels and dance halls, now known as Ledbetter Heights.

Blues singer Lead Belly

Between 1915 and 1939, Lead Belly served several prison terms for a multitude of crimes, including killing one of his relatives in a fight over a woman.

During one of his prison terms he was stabbed in the neck by another inmate and nearly killed his attacker with his own knife. In 1930, he was sentenced to Louisiana State Penitentiary for attempted homicide after stabbing a man in a fight. He served his final jail term in 1939 in New York after another knife fight.

It was during one his prison terms, thirty years after beginning his music career, that he was “discovered” by folklorists John Lomax and his son Alan Lomax.

Lead Belly’s Pick a Bale of Cotton is a classic, beginning in slow tempo and speeding up to an amazing virtuoso performance.

In 1949, Lead Belly had a regular Sunday night radio show, Folk Songs of America, broadcast on station WNYC in New York. Later that year he began his first European tour, starting in France, but had to cancel the tour when he fell ill and was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Blues singer Lead Belly
Lead Belly and Martha

His final concert was in 1949, singing spirituals at the University of Texas in Austin, with his wife Martha.

Lead Belly died on December 6, 1949, in New York City at the age of 61. He was buried in the Shiloh Baptist Church cemetery in Mooringsport, Louisiana.


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🎵 Jude Jude, Judy Judy Judy Judy, ow wow!

A song best listened to when high!

Paul McCartney’s rock anthem ‘Hey Jude’ was released in the U.S.A. on this day, August 26, 1968.

The song is famous for its extended fade out which was described by a music critic as a “trance-like ceremonial that becomes almost timeless in its continuity.”

“Timeless in its continuity” — I like that, to which I would add, especially if you’re stoned.

Collector pays a bundle for song notes

McCartney’s notes for the song — a few lines scribbled on a piece of paper — sold for $910,000 at auction in April.

Paul McCartney wrote

‘Hey Jude’ was released as a non-album single and was the Beatles’ first release on their Apple Records label. It had the longest run of any Beatles song on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and is Billboard’s 10th biggest song of all time.

Story behind the song

In 1966, John Lennon was married to Cynthia; they had a son, Julian. Then John met Yoko Ono, and the marriage was over.

Paul McCartney was driving out to John’s house one day and started composing a song in his head which he intended to sing for young Jules, as he was known, to cheer him up.

1969
Yoko Ono, Julian and John Lennon, 1969

“I always feel sorry for kids in divorces,” Paul McCartney reflected. “I started singing, ‘Hey Jules, don’t make it bad, take a sad song, and make it better.’ It was optimistic, a hopeful message for Julian.”

A few changes were made and thus was born a rock anthem.

Click bottom right to enlarge — play it through and get high!


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