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Remembering Honeyboy Edwards, Dead At Age 96

David “Honeyboy” Edwards, the son of a sharecropper, the grandson of a slave and — for an extraordinary 80-plus years — the voice of the Delta blues, died Monday at his home in Chicago, said his longtime manager, Michael Frank. He was 96 and had been in declining health with heart problems.

He picked cotton and pulled corn on Mississippi Delta plantations from age 9, living the hard life that the blues were created to address. As a young man, he traveled across the South with a guitar on his shoulder, rode the rails, got thrown in prison on various trumped-up charges and, along the way, made music with the founders of the art form: Robert Johnson, Charlie Patton, Son House, Tommy McLennan, Sonny Boy Williamson and Big Joe Williams.

“You could play the blues like it was a lonesome thing — it was a feeling,” he said in a 1998 Chicago Tribune interview. “The blues is nothing but a story. … The verses which are sung in the blues is a true story, what people are doing … what they all went through. It’s not just a song, see?”

He is survived by daughter Betty Washington, and her children and grandchildren; a stepdaughter, Dolly McGinister; and nieces and nephews.

Visitation will be from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday at McCullough Funeral & Cremation Services, 851 E. 75th St. in Chicago. A “Friends and Fans Gathering” will follow at Lee’s Unleaded Blues, 7401 S. South Chicago Ave., with doors opening at 8 p.m.

Read more at the Chicago Tribune

Honeyboy Edwards, Hubert Sumlin and Steven Johnson
Honeyboy Edwards (right), Hubert Sumlin (left) and Steven Johnson (center) at the Berklee Performance Center in February 2011.