- Furry Lewis
Furry Lewis (
March 6 1893- September 14 1981[http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:difwxq95ld0e~T1 All Music Guide biography - accessed January 2008] ] ) was a country blues guitaristand songwriterfrom Memphis, Tennessee. Lewis was one of the first of the old-time blues musiciansof the 1920s to be brought out of retirement, and given a new lease of recording life, by the folk blues revivalof the 1960s.
Life and career
Walter E. Lewis was born in Greenwood,
Mississippi, but his family moved to Memphis when he was aged seven. Lewis acquired the nickname"Furry" from childhood playmates. [http://www.nps.gov/history/delta/blues/people/furry_lewis.htm Trail of the Hellhound: Delta Blues in the Lower Mississippi - Lewis biography - accessed January 2008] ] But by the time he was re-discovered in the 1950s not even Furry himself could remember why. [http://www.musicianguide.com/biographies//Furry-Lewis.html Musicianguide biography - accessed January 2008] ]
By 1908, he was playing solo for parties, in taverns, and on the street. He also was invited to play several dates with
W. C. Handy's Orchestra.
The loss of a leg in a railroad accident in 1917 does not seem to have slowed his life or career down — in fact, it hastened his entry into professional music, because he assumed that there was no gainful employment open to crippled, uneducated blacks in Memphis.
His travels exposed him to a wide variety of performers including
Bessie Smith, Blind Lemon Jefferson, and Texas Alexander. Like his contemporary Frank Stokes, he tired of the road and took a permanent job in 1922. His position as a street sweeperfor the City of Memphis, a job he would hold until his retirement in 1966, allowed him to remain active in the Memphis music scene.
In 1927, Lewis cut his first records in
Chicagofor the Vocalion label. A year later he recorded for the Victor label at the Memphis Auditorium in a session that saw sides waxed by the Memphis Jug Band, Jim Jackson, Frank Stokes, and others. He again recorded for Vocalion in Memphis in 1929. The tracks were mostly blues but included two-part versions of "Casey Jones" and "John Henry". He sometimes fingerpicked, sometimes played with a slide.cite book
title= The Blues: From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray
publisher= Carlton Books Limited
pages= p. 134-35
id= ISBN -X]
Lewis' style of
Memphis blueswas in many ways typical of the songsterswho operated in and around Memphis in the 1920s, for whom the value of a song was the story it told, and who tended to back their words with hypnotic repetitive riffs and subtle slide guitars. Lewis's soft voice and quick slide work were particularly effective in this style. He recorded many successful records in the late 1920s including "Kassie Jones", "Billy Lyons & Stack-O-Lee" and "Judge Harsh Blues"http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SNBZzH99Dpo (later called "Good Morning Judge").
This success was limited to the
race records of the time, cheap sides by black musicians for black customers. Lewis received neither fame nor fortune for his efforts. In 1962, however, he was recorded by the folkloristGeorge Mitchell and his stock began to pick up. In 1969, Lewis was recorded by the record producer, Terry Manning, at home in Lewis' Beale Streetapartment, singing and playing as he sat up in his bed. These recordings were released in Europeat the time by Barclay Records, and then again in the early 1990s by Lucky Seven Records in the United States, and again in 2006 by Universal. Joni Mitchell's song, "Furry Sings the Blues", (on her "Hejira" album) is about Lewis and the Memphis music she experienced in the early 1970s. (Lewis despised the Mitchell song and demanded she pay him royalties). [http://www.cascadeblues.org/History/FurryLewis.htm Cascadeblues.org biography] ]
Before he died, Lewis opened twice for
The Rolling Stones, played on Johnny Carson's " The Tonight Show", and had a part in a Burt Reynoldsmovie, "W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings" (1975), and even a profile in "Playboy" magazine.
Lewis began to lose his
eyesightdue to cataracts in his final years. He contracted pneumoniain 1981, which led to his death on 14 September of that year, at the age of 88. He is buried in the Hollywood Cemetery in South Memphis, where his grave bears two headstones, the second purchased by fans.
List of blues musicians
List of Blues revival musicians
List of Country blues musicians
List of Sire Records artists
Anthology of American Folk Music
* [http://www.wirz.de/music/lewis.htm Illustrated Furry Lewis discography]
* [http://www.cascadeblues.org/History/FurryLewis.htm Cascadeblues.org biography]
* [http://billslater.com/furry.htm Fansite reminisences]
* [http://www.thebluehighway.com/furry.html Thebluehighway.com - Fan biography]
* [http://www.cr.nps.gov/delta/blues/people/furry_lewis.htm Mini-biography @ cr.nps.gov]
* [http://www.musicianguide.com/biographies/1608002408/Furry-Lewis.html Musicanguide.com biography]
* [http://myspace.com/walter_furry_lewis Furry Lewis on Myspace]
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Look at other dictionaries:
Furry Lewis — Datos generales Nombre real Walter Lewis Nacimiento 1893 Origen Greenwood, Misisipi, Estados Unidos … Wikipedia Español
Furry Lewis — Walter Furry Lewis (* 6. März 1893 in Greenwood, Mississippi; † 14. September 1981 in Memphis, Tennessee) war ein US amerikanischer Blues Gitarrist und Sänger. Er war einer der bedeutendsten Vertreter des Memphis Blues und einer der ersten der… … Deutsch Wikipedia
Furry Lewis — Walter Lewis … Eponyms, nicknames, and geographical games
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Walter Lewis — Walter Furry Lewis (* 6. März 1899 in Greenwood, Mississippi; † 14. September 1981 in Memphis, Tennessee) war ein US amerikanischer Blues Gitarrist und Sänger. Er war einer der bedeutendsten Vertreter des Memphis Blues und einer der ersten der… … Deutsch Wikipedia
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Hejira (album) — Infobox Album | Name = Hejira Type = Album Artist = Joni Mitchell Released = November 1976 Recorded = 1976 A M Studios, Hollywood Genre = Folk jazz Length = 52:18 Label = Asylum Producer = Joni Mitchell Reviews = *Allmusic rating|3.5|5… … Wikipedia