Junior : Robert Lockwood©2006JCMarion


At Thanksgiving in 2006, word came of the death of Robert Lockwood Jr. He was 91 years old and a giant among American blues artists. He was born in 1915 in rural Arkansas and soon moved with his family to Helena in that state. Beside piano he began to excel on the guitar mostly because of learning from stepfather Robert Johnson. In his late teens he went out on the road as an itinerant musician and led a hobo existence. He played at various picnics, street fairs, and other local area gatherings throughout the South mainly the delta and the Memphis area. By the 1940’s he often played with Sonny Boy Williamson , made many broadcasts in Helena and toured with the King Biscuit Time Boys from the famous radio program. He also appeared on radio in Memphis and played with B.B. King’s Beale Streeters. Became known as Robert Junior Lockwood at this time as he soon settled in Chicago in 1949.

In December of 1951, Bob Shad who was Mercury Records new R & B recording director, signs Robert Lockwood to that label. Later that month Mercury releases # 8260 with the tunes “Dust My Broom” and “I’m Gonna Dig Myself A Hole” by Lockwood. Soon he was a regular on the Chicago blues circuit with Muddy Waters, Eddy Boyd, Roosevelt Sykes, and Otis Spann. In 1954 for the Detroit based JOB label Lockwood recorded “Sweet Woman From Maine” and “Aw Aw Baby” on # 1107. In 1955 Robert recorded with Otis Spann for Checker Records with “It Must Have Been The Devil” and “Take A Little Walk With Me” on Checker # 807. In the late 1950’s into the next decade Lockwood frequently worked with Sunnyland Slim and recorded a few sides for small independent labels. By late 1962 he had moved to Cleveland, Ohio, and left music for a number of years. By 1972 he was back playing with a local combo in Cleveland blues clubs. Beginning in the mid seventies he was often found at American and European blues festivals where he became a foremost exponent of this true art form.

Robert Lockwood has left a long and varied legacy of music that survives him and will keep his memory alive long after his passing. Some (not hardly all) of available music cds that are worthwhile are listed here. From the 1950’s are “Dust My Broom” from UK Flyright, his early fifties combo with Johnny Shines, and “Sweet Home Chicago : The JOB Sessions” with 22 tracks from P-Vine. Later on there is “Steady Rollin Man” from Delmark from the summer of 1970, “The Complete Trix Recordings” 25 tracks from Jazz Classics (recorded in the early 1970s), and “Blues Live” from Japanese Vivid Sound. A 1982 LP is available on cd called “Plays Robert and Robert” on Evidence. More recent vintage music from Robert Lockwood are “Just The Blues” for Bullseye, “Delta Crossroads” for Telarc, “The Legend Live” a solo recording for MC, and two for P-Vine : “Annie’s Boogie” and “Swings In Tokyo : At The Park Tower Blues Festival”.

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