Big Joe Duskin
|Big Joe Duskin|
|Birth name||Joseph L. Duskin|
February 10, 1921|
Collegeville, Birmingham, Alabama, United States
|Died||May 6, 2007
Avondale, Ohio, United States
|Occupation(s)||Pianist, singer, songwriter|
|Years active||Early 1970s – 2007|
Yellow Dog Records
Big Joe Duskin (February 10, 1921 – May 6, 2007) was an American blues and boogie-woogie pianist. He is best known for his debut album, Cincinnati Stomp (1978), and the tracks "Well, Well Baby" and "I Met a Girl Named Martha".
Born Joseph L. Duskin in Birmingham, Alabama, by the age of seven he had started playing piano. He played in church, accompanying his preacher father, the Rev. Perry Duskin. His family moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, and Duskin was raised near to the Union Terminal train station where his father worked. On his local radio station, WLW, Duskin heard his hero Fats Waller play. He was also inspired to play in a boogie-woogie style by Pete Johnson's, "627 Stomp".
In his younger days Duskin performed in clubs in Cincinnati and across the river in Newport, Kentucky. While serving in the US Army in World War II, he continued to play and, in entertaining the US forces, met his idols Johnson, Albert Ammons and Meade Lux Lewis.
After his military service ended, Duskin's father made him promise to stop playing while the elder Duskin was still alive. However, Rev. Duskin lived to the age of 105, and Joe found alternative employment as a police officer and a postal worker. Therefore Duskin, effectively in the middle of his career, never played a keyboard for sixteen years.
With the encouragement of a blues historian, Steven C. Tracy, by the early 1970s Duskin had begun playing the piano at festivals in the US and across Europe. By 1978, and with the reputation for his concert playing now growing, his first recording, Cincinnati Stomp, was released on Arhoolie Records. The album contained Duskin's cover version of the track, "Down the Road a Piece"  and featured Muddy Waters' guitarist Bob Margolin.
He subsequently toured both Austria and Germany, and in 1987 made his inaugural visit to the UK. The same year his part in John Jeremy's film, Boogie Woogie Special, recorded for The South Bank Show, increased Duskin's profile. In 1988, accompanied by the guitar-playing Dave Peabody, Duskin recorded his second album, Don't Mess with the Boogie Man. In the following decade, Duskin performed at both the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and the Chicago Blues Festival.
His touring in Europe continued before he recorded his final album at the Quai du Blues in Neuilly, France. Several Duskin albums were issued on European labels in the 1980s and 1990s. It was 2004 before Big Joe Jumps Again! (Yellow Dog Records) became his second US-based release, and his first studio recording for sixteen years. It featured Phillip Paul (drums), Ed Conley (bass), and Peter Frampton on guitar.
Suffering from the effects of diabetes, Duskin was on the eve of having legs amputated, when he died in May 2007, at the age of 86. The Ohio based Big Joe Duskin Music Education Foundation keeps his musical ideals alive by producing in-school music presentations for public school children.
- 1978: Cincinnati Stomp (Arhoolie)
- 1988: Don't Mess with the Boogie Man (Indigo)
- 1990: Down the Road a Piece (live album, Wolf)
- 2004: Big Joe Jumps Again! Cincinnati Blues Session (Yellow Dog Records)
- 2004: Live at Quai de Blues (live album, Virgin)
Duskin said in 1987,
|“||My dad was a minister, and he was kind of fanatic over religion. When he first knew that I was playing piano, he said 'Don't you never play that devil's music in here. I'll tear you up if I catch you playing that.'..[Years later, his father discovered him playing the blues.]...The old man come in there and jumped on me. Now, when he got done whipping me, I said, 'Pop, you might as well get with it. This is what I want to do.' He looked at me and said, 'Joe, I'm 89 years old. I'm not going to live too long. Why don't you just make an agreement with me not to play the devil's music till I'm dead in the grave?' Well, I shook his hand and I never played a lick. And the old man died at 105."||”|
- "The Dead Rock Stars Club 2007 January to June". thedeadrockstarclub.com. Archived from the original on 14 January 2010. Retrieved 2010-01-07.
- "Biography by Richard Skelly". Allmusic.com. Retrieved November 25, 2009.
- "Big Joe Duskin; Bluesman who flourished in later life - obituary by Tony Russell". London: Guardian.co.uk. June 19, 2007. Retrieved November 25, 2009.
- Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues: From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books Limited. p. 108. ISBN 1-85868-255-X.
- "Allmusic ((( Cincinnati Stomp > Overview )))". Retrieved 2010-01-07.
- "Allmusic ((( Big Joe Duskin > Discography > Main Albums )))".
- "Allmusic ((( Big Joe Duskin > Discography > Compilations )))".