Dec 19: Blind Lemon Jefferson died in 1929

Blind-Lemon-Jeffersons-Paramount-publicity-photo1the only known picture of BLJ, and it is heavily retouched, with a fake tie painted in by hand

Country blues guitarist and vocalist Blind Lemon Jefferson is indisputably one of the main figures in country blues. He was of the highest in many regards, being one of the founders of Texas blues (along with Texas Alexander), one of the most influential country bluesmen of all time, one of the most popular bluesmen of the 1920s, and the first truly commercially successful male blues performer.
~Joslyn Layne (

See That My Grave Is Kept Clean:

Well, there’s one kind of favor I’ll ask of you
Well, there’s one kind of favor I’ll ask of you
There’s just one kind of favor I’ll ask of you
You can see that my grave is kept clean

Here is Bob Dylan’s take (from his first album – “Bob Dylan” (1962)):

From Wikipedia:

Birth name Lemon Henry Jefferson
Born September 24, 1893
Origin Coutchman, Texas, United States
Died December 19, 1929 (aged 36)
Chicago, Illinois, United States
Genres Blues
Occupations Singer-songwriter, guitarist
Years active 1926–1929

“Blind” Lemon Jefferson (Lemon Henry Jefferson; September 24, 1893 – December 19, 1929) was an American blues singer and guitarist from Texas. He was one of the most popular blues singers of the 1920s, and has been titled “Father of the Texas Blues”.

Jefferson’s singing and self-accompaniment were distinctive as a result of his high-pitched voice and originality on the guitar. Though his recordings sold well, he was not so influential on some younger blues singers of his generation, who could not imitate him as they could other commercially successful artists. However, later blues and rock and roll musicians attempted to imitate both his songs and his musical style. His recordings would later influence such legends as B.B. King, T-Bone Walker, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Son Houseand Robert Johnson.

Matchbox Blues:

Carl Perkins – Matchbox (1956):

Death & Grave

Jefferson died in Chicago at 10:00 am on December 19, 1929, of what his death certificate called “probably acute myocarditis”. For many years, apocryphal rumors circulated that a jealous lover had poisoned his coffee, but a more likely scenario is that he died of a heart attack after becoming disoriented during a snowstorm. Some have said that Jefferson died from a heart attack after being attacked by a dog in the middle of the night. More recently, the book, Tolbert’s Texas, claimed that he was killed while being robbed of a large royalty payment by a guide escorting him to Union Station to catch a train home to Texas. Paramount Records paid for the return of his body to Texas by train, accompanied by pianist William Ezell.

Jefferson was buried at Wortham Negro Cemetery (later Wortham Black Cemetery). Far from his grave being kept clean, it was unmarked until 1967, when a Texas Historical Marker was erected in the general area of his plot, the precise location being unknown. By 1996, the cemetery and marker were in poor condition, but a new granite headstone was erected in 1997. In 2007, the cemetery’s name was changed to Blind Lemon Memorial Cemetery and his gravesite is kept clean by a cemetery committee in Wortham, Texas.

In popular culture

  • A tribute song, “My Buddy Blind Papa Lemon,” was recorded for Paramount Records in 1932 by King Solomon Hill. The record was long considered lost, but one copy was finally located by John Tefteller in 2002.
  • Geoff Muldaur refers to Jefferson with the song “Got To Find Blind Lemon” on the album The Secret Handshake.
  • Art Evans portrays Blind Lemon in the 1976 film Leadbelly directed by Gordon Parks.
  • Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds recorded the song “Blind Lemon Jefferson” on the album The Firstborn Is Dead.
  • In the 2003 movie Masked and Anonymous, Bobby Cupid (Luke Wilson) gives his friend Jack Fate (Bob Dylan) Blind Lemon’s original guitar, on which he claims Matchbox Blues was first recorded.
  • Cheech and Chong parodied Jefferson as “Blind Melon Chitlin'” on their self-titled 1971 album Cheech and Chong, their 1985 album Get Out of My Room, and in a stage routine that can be seen in their 1983 movie Still Smokin’.
  • Chet Atkins calls Jefferson “one of my first finger-picking influences” in the song “Nine Pound Hammer”, on the album The Atkins – Travis Traveling Show

Great youtube upload:

Blind Lemon Jefferson – Discography Part 1: 1927

Track Listing:

01 – Black Snake Moan
02 – Match Box Blues
03 – Match Box Blues (Version 2)
04 – Match Box Blues (Version 4)
05 – Easy Rider Blues
06 – Rising High Water Blues
07 – Teddy Bear Blues (Version 1)
08 – Teddy Bear Blues (Version 2)
09 – Hot Dogs
10 – Weary Dogs Blues
11 – Black Snake Dream Blues
12 – Right Of Way Blues
13 – Rambler Blues
14 – Struck Sorrow Blues
15 – Chinch Bug Blues
16 – Deceitful Brownskin Blues
17 – Gone Dead On You Blues
18 – One Dime Blues
19 – Where Shall I Be
20 – He Arose From The Dead
21 – See That Grave’s Kept Clean
22 – Sunshine Special
23 – Lonesome House Blues


One thought on “Dec 19: Blind Lemon Jefferson died in 1929”

Comments are closed.