DAVID “HONEYBOY” EDWARDS BIOGRAPHY
David “Honeyboy” Edwards (Shaw, Mississippi, June 28, 1915 – Chicago, Illinois, August 29, 2011) was a Delta blues guitarist and singer from the American South.
Honeyboy Edwards was the oldest living Delta blues player, and continued to tour at the age of 95. Edwards received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award on January 31, 2010, his second Grammy.
Edwards was born in Shaw, Mississippi. He was a friend to the musician Robert Johnson and claims he was present on the fateful night Johnson drank the poisoned whiskey that took his life. Even though Johnson is usually credited with writing “Sweet Home Chicago,” Edwards’ website claims that it was he who wrote the song. Folklorist Alan Lomax recorded Edwards in Clarksdale, Mississippi in 1942 for the Library of Congress. Edwards recorded a total of fifteen album sides of music. The songs included “Wind Howlin’ Blues” and “The Army Blues”. He did not record again commercially until 1951, when he recorded “Who May Your Regular Be” for Arc Records under the name of Mr Honey. From 1974 to 1977, he recorded material for a full length LP, “I’ve Been Around”, released in 1978 on the independent Trix Records label by producer/ethnomusicologist Peter B. Lowry.
Edwards still toured the country performing, and was the author of one book, The World Don’t Owe Me Nothin’, published in 1997 by Chicago Review Press. The book recounts his life from childhood, his journeys through the South and his arrival in Chicago in the early 1950s. A companion CD by the same title was released by Earwig Records shortly afterwards. He has also recorded at a church-turned-studio in Salina, Kansas and released albums on the APO record label. Edwards claims to have written several well-known blues songs including “Long Tall Woman Blues” and “Just Like Jesse James”. His discography for the 1950s and 1960s amounts to nine songs from seven sessions.
Edwards was one of the last original delta blues guitarists still performing. In October 2004, the last four original delta blues musicians gathered together in Dallas for a once-in-a-lifetime concert. The line-up consisted of: Honeyboy Edwards, Pinetop Perkins, Henry Townsend, and Robert Lockwood, Jr. But two years later in 2006, Townsend died (aged 96) and Lockwood died (aged 91). Perkins still continues to tour, mainly in the US.
Edwards also toured, performing up to 100 concerts a year. He undertook a tour of Europe in September and October 2009, and frequently toured in Canada.
In the 1991 documentary The Search for Robert Johnson, Edwards recounts stories about Johnson, including his murder.
Edwards was featured in the 2001 documentary film, Honeyboy.
Edwards performs in the 2004 concert film Lightning In A Bottle, as well as the 2004 concert film for the Crossroads Guitar Festival.
Edwards appeared in the 2007 film, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.
On August 29, 2011, Honeyboy Edwards died peacefully at his home of congestive heart failure at around 3 a.m.
Awards 1996: Inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame 1998: Keeping the Blues Alive Award in literature for The World Don’t Owe Me Nothing 2002: National Endowment for the Arts, National Heritage Fellowship Award 2005: Acoustic Blues-Artist of the Year (26th W.C. Handy Blues Awards) 2007: Acoustic Artist of the Year (The Blues Music Awards) 2008: Grammy Award; Best Traditional Blues Album for Last of the Great Mississippi Delta Bluesmen: Live In Dallas 2010: Lifetime Achievement Award, Grammy; Mississippi Governor’s Awards For Excellence in the Arts 2010: Lifetime Achievement Award, National Guitar Museum His albums White Windows, The World Don’t Owe Me Nothin’, Mississippi Delta Blues Man, and a recent album in which he appears with Robert Lockwood, Jr., Henry Townsend and Pinetop Perkins, Last Of The Great Mississippi Delta Bluesmen: Live In Dallas, were all nominated for the W. C. Handy Award. The latter album also won a Grammy Award in 2008.