1904 — Mississippi Fred McDowell born

Born Fred McDowell – because few people are cruel enough to name a child Mississippi – he was one of the truly great bluesmen, and one of the very first of North Mississippi bluesmen. He played in what is sometimes called the North Hill Country Blues style, which was low on chord changes, but high on the use of slide guitar. This latter art McDowell cheerfully taught for many years – Bonnie Raitt was one of his students.

That said, and despite his occasional use of an electric guitar, McDowell refused to play rock – in fact, his 1969 album was famously entitled: I Do Not Play No Rock ‘N’ Roll/. He didn’t seem to mind anyone else doing so, though – when the Rolling Stones covered his song “You Gotta Move” in 1971, he was flattered and told folks he quite liked their take on it.

Referenced in:

Green Onions — The Blues Brothers

1972 — Mississippi Fred McDowell dies

Mississippi Fred McDowell was 68 at the time of his death – he was born, died and was buried in the state that gave him his nickname. Cancer took him, and the world lost a great talent.

McDowell, although often lumped in with the Delta Blues tradition, is more accurately seen as one of the earliest representatives of the distinct yet related North Mississippi Blues tradition. He often served as a mentor to younger musicians – famously, although he always said “I Do Not Play No Rock ‘N’ Roll” (he even released an album with that as its title), he was happy to associate with those who did, notably Bonnie Raitt.

Referenced in:

L.A. Money Train — Rollins Band
Green Onions — The Blues Brothers