Blind Lemon Jefferson – Father of The Texas Blues
Blind Lemon Jefferson was born September 24, 1893 in Coutchman, Texas. He was born blind and began playing guitar at around thirteen years old. It’s not really known where or who taught Jefferson how to play but with his natural talent, it didn’t take him long to start performing at parties as he became a street musician in order to scrape together money to make a living.
He made frequent trips to Dallas where for a brief time earned money as a novelty wrestler in theaters. It was in Dallas met Harry “Led Belly” Ledbetter. Jefferson is considered one of, if not the first pioneer of the Texas blues scene in Dallas. Jefferson spent a lot of time in the Deep Ellum neighborhoods of Dallas. It is also there were met Aaron Thibeaux Walker, who would become famous as T-Bone Walker. Jefferson taught Walker how to play the blues in exchange for his part time services as a seeing guide.
He had a high pitch voice along with great lyrical skills. He had an intricate guitar style and was a good showman.
It is said the Jefferson began his recording career around 1925 or 1926. It is said that 1925 a record-store owner in Dallas recommended him to a contact at Paramount Records, where they His first recordings were release under the name Deacon L.J. Bates. They were gospel songs “I Want to Be Like Jesus in My Heart” and “All I Want Is That Pure Religion”.
His next recordings were released under his own name. They were “Booster Blues” and “Dry Southern Blues” and were both hits. Jefferson recorded about 100 songs.
He became one of the most popular blues singers of the 1920’s but even with his popularity much like Robert Johnson, not much is known about Jefferson’s life outside of music. There is only one known photo of Jefferson.
Jefferson died December 1929, in Chicago, Illinois of an apparent heart attach and exposure to the cold. It is said that he was abandoned by his driver during a snow storm.
Jefferson was among the inaugural class of blues musicians inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1980. His 1927 recording of Matchbox Blues was selected by the Rock and Roll Hall as one of the 500 songs that shaped rock and roll.
Jefferson has influenced many musicians, from John Lee Hooker & B.B. King to Bob Dylan.