"Bukka" White

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Booker T. Washington "Bukka" White (November 12, 1909 – February 26, 1977)[1] was

an American Delta blues guitarist and singer. "Bukka" is a phonetic spelling of White's

first name, though he preferred "Booker."




 Born south of Houston, Mississippi,


 White was a first cousin of B.B. King's mother (White's mother and King's grandmother

were sisters). White himself is remembered as a player of National steel guitars. He

also played, but was less adept at, the piano.


White started his career playing the fiddle at square dances. He claims to have met

Charlie Patton early on, although some doubt has been cast upon this;

 Regardless, Patton was a large influence on White. White typically played slide guitar, in an open tuning. He was one of the few, along with Skip J

James, to use a crossnote tuning in E minor, which he may

have learned, as James did, from Henry Stuckey.


He first recorded for Victor Records in 1930. His recordings for Victor, like those of many other bluesmen, fluctuated between country blues and


gospel numbers. Victor published his photograph in 1930. His gospel songs were done in the style of Blind Willie Johnson, with a female singer

accentuating the last phrase of each line.


Nine years later, while serving time for assault, he recorded for folklorist John Lomax. The few songs he recorded around this time became his

most well-known: "Shake 'Em On Down," and "Po' Boy."


Bob Dylan covered his song "Fixin' to Die Blues", which aided a "rediscovery" of White in 1963 by guitarist John Fahey and Ed Denson, which

propelled him onto the folk revival scene of the 1960s. White had recorded the song simply because his other songs had not particularly impressed

the Victor record producer. It was a studio composition of which White had thought little until it re-emerged thirty years later.[


White was at one time managed by experienced blues manager Arne Brogger. Fahey and Denson found White easily enough: Fahey wrote a letter

to "Bukka White (Old Blues Singer), c/o General Delivery, Aberdeen, Mississippi." Fahey had assumed, given White's song, "Aberdeen, Mississippi",

that White still lived there, or nearby. The postcard was forwarded to Memphis, Tennessee, where White worked in a tank factory. Fahey and

Denson soon traveled to meet White, and White and Fahey remained friends through the remainder of White's life.[7] He recorded a new album for

Denson and Fahey's Takoma Records, whilst Denson became his manager.


White was, later in life, also friends with fellow musician Furry Lewis. The two recorded, mostly in Lewis' Memphis apartment, an album together,

Furry Lewis, Bukka White & Friends: Party! At Home.


 "Parchman Farm Blues" was about the Mississippi State Penitentiary


One of his most famous songs, "Parchman Farm Blues", about the Mississippi State Penitentiary (also known as Parchman Farm) in Sunflower

County, Mississippi, was released on Harry Smith's fourth volume of the Anthology of American Folk Music, Vol. 4. His 1937 version of the oft-

recorded song, "Shake 'Em On Down," is considered definitive, and became a hit while White was serving time in Parchman


White died in February 1977 from cancer, at the age of 67, in Memphis, Tennessee. In 1990 he was posthumously inducted into the Blues Hall of

Fame (along with Blind Blake andLonnie Johnson). On November 21, 2011, The Recording Academy announced that "Fixin' to Die Blues" was to be

added to its 2012 list of Grammy Hall of Fame Award recipients.




 Memorial marker for Bukka White


The Led Zeppelin song "Hats Off to (Roy) Harper", on the band's 1970 album Led Zeppelin III was based in large part on White's "Shake 'Em on

Down."[13] "Custard Pie", a song on Led Zeppelin's 1975 album Physical Graffiti, also references "Shake 'Em on Down.


The 1963 recordings of White's song "Shake 'em on Down" and spoken-word piece "Remembrance of Charlie Patton" were both sampled

byelectronic artist Recoil (mostly a one-man effort by Alan Wilder of Depeche Mode) for the track "Electro Blues For Bukka White" on the 1992

album Bloodline. The song was reworked and re-released on the 2000 EP Jezebel.


In 1995, White's "Aberdeen, Mississippi" was covered as "Aberdeen" by guitarist Kenny Wayne Shepherd on his debut album Ledbetter Heights. It

reached number 23 on the Billboard (North America) Mainstream Rock Tracks in 1996.


On January 26, 2010, Eric Bibb released Booker's Guitar (TEL 31756 02) through Telarc International Corporation after becoming inspired by the

hidden stories Bibb felt through holding White's famous guitar.


White's song "Parchman Farm Blues" was recorded by Jeff Buckley, and was released posthumously on the bonus disc of Buckley's album Grace:

Legacy Edition.







The Forum post is edited by bninna Aug 12 '15
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