The popularity of Mississippi John Hurt long after his death speaks to the legendary status this remarkable bluesman. His genuine style of playing and smooth, gentle vocals hold up well over time – this is early country blues, a bit more folkier.
Hurt taught himself to play the guitar around the age of nine and worked as a sharecropper and played at dances, singing to his melody based, fingerpicking accompaniment.
When fiddle player Willie Narmour got a chance to record for Okeh Records as a prize for winning first place in a 1928 fiddle contest, he recommended Hurt to Okeh producer Tommy Rockwell. After auditioning “Monday Morning Blues” at his home, Hurt took part in two recording sessions, in Memphis and New York City. While in Memphis, he recalled seeing “many, many blues singers … Lonnie Johnson, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Bessie Smith, and lots, lots more.” Hurt described his first recording session as follows:
… a great big hall with only the three of us in it: me, the man [Rockwell], and the engineer. It was really something. I sat on a chair, and they pushed the microphone right up to my mouth and told me that I couldn’t move after they had found the right position. I had to keep my head absolutely still. Oh, I was nervous, and my neck was sore for days after.
Hurt attempted to record again, but his records were commercial failures and he returned to Avalon and obscurity, working as a sharecropper and playing at local dances. Although Hurt never had success as a recording artist, he was recorded by the Library of Congress in 1964 and Hurt is responsible for other Delta bluesman finding recognization and being brought out of retirement. This fueled the folk and blues revival. Hurt performed at the 1963 Newport Folk Festival which made him more popular in the folk revival and he performed at colleges, concert halls, coffeehouses and even appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. His fans particularly liked the songs “Salty Dog” and “Candy Man”, “Spike Driver Blues” and “Frankie And Albert”.
We are proud to bring you this collector’s gem of Mississippi John Hurt performing live!
This is Mississippi John Hurt – “The Candy Man”.