Sunday, November 26, 2006

Blues original Robert Junior Lockwood dies at 91


Robert Junior Lockwood was one of the last blues originals, Along in age and bound to leave eventually, Robert Junior has now taken leave at 91. Robert Junior was special.

I got to meet him in the days when I came to know Sunnyland Slim, and worked on The Sunnyland Blues. In my experience, Robert was imposing on one level, with a marked sense of self, and tremendously curious and open on another level too. He was nice just to take the time to field some questions, but he was furthermore kind in taking the trouble to figure out who I was.

He was wise to parse his time. My note taking and record keeping have always been scattered. In the days of putting together the Sunnyland Blues, it was really bad. I couldn’t find all the material I’d gathered during the research period, actually went through a fire along the way, which Robert understood, and I had to push to get the things done with what I had right at hand.

The time that Robert shared was of a wonderful help in writing that book, but his testimony did not get in it. I had hoped to expand the book with a section of verbatims, but Paul DeMark’s description of a trip with Slim South and West was all that made the way to the book.

But here on Moon Traveller Herald now are Robert Lockwood’s words. The connections between Slim and Robert were deep. They always met as deep friends. They both sought to learn from life – and they would share what they learned with others. Robert found the music business a dark place, and the things he told me in this regard were eye opening. Robert came to his first prominence backing Doctor Clayton – later, when Doctor Clayton died, Sunnyland came to his first prominence via a recording session in which he was billed as Doctor Clayton’s Buddy.

More on his career and music

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The accompanying scanned image of Robert shooting pool shows him with Johnnie Shines [who is chalking his stick]. It is of a hand colored photo that appeared as the cover on the Rounder LP “Mister Blues is Back to Stay.” Johnnie Shines and Robert Jr. Lockwood were courteous enough to sign my copy of the record.

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