Oscar "Buddy" Woods

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Oscar "Buddy" Woods
Also known as The Lone Wolf
Born c. 1895
Natchitoches, Louisiana, United States
Died December 14, 1955
Shreveport, Louisiana, United States
Genres Texas blues[1]
Occupation(s) Guitarist, singer, songwriter
Instruments Slide guitar, lap steel guitar, vocals
Years active 1920s–1950s
Labels Victor, Decca, Vocalion and Document (later re-issues)
Associated acts Jimmie Davis, Ed Schaffer, Shreveport Home Wreckers, Wampus Cats, Kitty Gray

Oscar "Buddy" Woods (c. 1895 – December 14, 1955)[1][2] was an American Texas blues guitarist, singer and songwriter.

Woods, who was an early blues pioneer in lap steel, slide guitar playing, recorded thirty-five tracks between 1930 and 1940. He recorded solo and as part of the duo, the Shreveport Home Wreckers, and with a six/seven piece group, the Wampus Cats. Early in his career he backed Jimmie Davis on some of his recordings. Woods's best known song was "Lone Wolf Blues", from which came his billing as 'The Lone Wolf'.[1]

Life and career[edit]

He was born around Natchitoches, Louisiana, United States, with the birth year variously listed as somewhere between 1892 and 1900. He relocated to Shreveport, Louisiana around 1925, where he started to work as a street musician and played for tips at juke joints.[1] Various sources claim that he learned the rudiments of playing a bottleneck slide guitar after watching an Hawaiian music ensemble, who toured Louisiana in the early part of the 1920s.[3] Woods teamed up with another guitar player, Ed Schaffer, and played billed as the Shreveport Home Wreckers at The Blue Goose Grocery and Market, which was a speakeasy in Shreveport.[4] In May 1930, the duo recorded for Victor Records in Memphis, Tennessee.[1]

In May 1932, the Shreveport Home Wreckers backed Jimmie Davis on four sides recorded in Dallas, Texas. They also recorded another two tracks on their own, and the released single saw them billed as 'Eddie and Oscar'. The significance of this mixed-race recording session spilled over into a joint tour - a unique sociological situation at that time in the South.[1]

Woods next recorded for Decca in March 1936 in New Orleans.[1] The tracks included Woods best known piece, "Lone Wolf Blues," and his first take of the self-penned "Don't Sell It, Don't Give It Away."[3] The releases sold well, and by the time Woods recorded again in October 1937, the Shreveport Home Wreckers had swelled in numbers to become the Wampus Cats. They backed both Woods, and a female singer and pianist, Kitty Gray,[5] on several tracks recorded in 1937 and the following year for Vocalion.[1]

In October 1940, Woods made his final five track recording for the Library of Congress.[1] Following the session, John Lomax wrote: "Oscar (Buddy) Woods, Joe Harris and Kid West are all professional Negro guitarists and singers of Texas Avenue, Shreveport.. The songs I have recorded are among those they use to cajole nickels and dimes from the pockets of listeners."[6] Local records suggest that Woods continued to live in Shreveport, and after his recording career was over, he played again as a street musician and at dances.[1]

Woods died in Shreveport in December 1955.[1]

Style and legacy[edit]

Woods played his guitar flat on his lap, in a similar manner to the Hawaiians, using a broken bottleneck slide technique. Lead Belly also used a slide technique, but held his guitar in the normal manner. It is suggested that the popularity of slide guitar playing in the Mississippi delta at that time, may have arisen from the appearance of Hawaiian musicians at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair.[7][8]

The Allmusic music journalist, Uncle Dave Lewis, noted of Woods, "in the style of lap steel, bottleneck blues slide guitar; some experts believe he may have been the primary force behind the creation of this whole genre".[1]

Woods guitar playing techiques were passed onto his protégé, Black Ace, who was approximately fifteen years younger than Woods, and had played with Woods around Shreveport.[6][7] The compilation album mentioned below, included both Woods and Black Ace tracks.[2]

The Shreveport Home Wreckers track, "Flying Crow Blues", was recorded in 1932. Robert Johnson used one set of its lyrics, almost word for word, for the final verse of his song, "Love in Vain" (1937).[1]

Discography[edit]

Compilation albums[edit]

Year Title Record label
1993 Texas Slide Guitars 1930-1938 Document

[2][9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Uncle Dave Lewis. "Buddy Woods | Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-01-28. 
  2. ^ a b c Stefan Wirz. "Oscar "Buddy" Woods discography". Wirz.de. Retrieved November 23, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b "Oscar "Buddy" Woods". Thebluestrail.com. Retrieved November 23, 2011. 
  4. ^ Brock, Eric J. (2001). Eric Brock's Shreveport (1st ed.). Gretna, Louisiana, United States: Pelican Publishing Company, Inc. p. 217. ISBN 1-56554-870-1. 
  5. ^ Dixon, Robert M.W., Godrich, John, Rye, Howard W. (1997): Blues and Gospel Records 1890-1943. Oxford: Oxford University Press p. 325
  6. ^ a b "Big Road Blues". Sundayblues.org. Retrieved November 23, 2011. 
  7. ^ a b Oliver, Paul (1997). The Story of the Blues (2nd ed.). Boston, Massachusetts, United States: Northeastern University Press. p. 157. ISBN 1-55553-355-8. 
  8. ^ Wolfe, Charles K. (1999). The life and legend of Leadbelly (2nd ed.). New York, United States: Da Capo Press, Inc. p. 91. ISBN 0-306-80896-X. 
  9. ^ "Texas Slide Guitars 1930-1938 - Buddy Woods | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-01-28.