Charlie Patton

Press PLAY to view Patton's 'High Water Everywhere, part 2'

CHARLIE PATTON (1891 - 1934)
Charlie Patton was the first great Delta bluesman; from him flowed nearly all the elements that would comprise the region’s blues style. Patton had a course, earthy voice that reflected hard times and hard living. His guitar style - percussive and raw - matched his vocal delivery. He often played slide guitar and gave that style a position of prominence in Delta blues.
Patton’s songs were filled with lyrics that dealt with issues like social mobility (pony Blues), imprisonment (High Sheriff Blues), nature (High Water Blues), and morality (Oh Death) that went far beyond traditional male - female relationship themes. Patton defined the life of a bluesman. He drank and smoked excessively. He reportedly had a total of eight wives. He was jailed at least once. He traveled extensively, never staying in one place for too long.

View the underground comic book genius R. Crumb's retelling of the life of Delta bluesman Charlie Patton, based on the biography by Stephen Calt and Gayle Dean Wardlow.