Jump to content

Eddie Kirkland

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Eddie Kirkland
Kirkland performing in 2002
Kirkland performing in 2002
Background information
Also known asEddie Kirk
Born(1923-08-16)August 16, 1923
Kingston, Jamaica
DiedFebruary 27, 2011(2011-02-27) (aged 87)
Crystal River, Florida, United States
GenresBlues, soul
Occupation(s)Musician, singer, songwriter
Years active1949–2011
LabelsRPM Records, Fortune Records, Volt Records, and King Records

Eddie Kirkland (August 16, 1923[1][2] – February 27, 2011)[3] was an American electric blues[4] guitarist, harmonicist, singer, and songwriter.

Kirkland, known as the "Gypsy of the Blues" for his rigorous touring schedules, played and toured with John Lee Hooker from 1949 to 1962. After his period of working in tandem with Hooker he pursued a successful solo career, recording for RPM Records, Fortune Records, Volt Records, and King Records, sometimes under the stage name Eddie Kirk. Kirkland continued to tour, write and record albums until his death in February 2011. His last performance, the night before his death, was at Dunedin Brewery, Florida.


Kirkland was born in Kingston, Jamaica[5] to a mother, aged 11 (Kirkland was raised believing his mother was his sister and he was in his early twenties when the truth was revealed to him by his mother), and first heard the blues from "field hollers",[1] and raised in Dothan, Alabama until 1935,[6] when he stowed away in the Sugar Girls Medicine Show tent truck and left town. Blind Blake was the one who influenced him the most in those early days.[7] He was placed on the chorus line with "Diamond Tooth Mary" McLean. When the show closed a year later, he was in Dunkirk, Indiana where he briefly returned to school.

He joined the United States Army during World War II. It was racism in the military, he said, that led him to seek out the devil.[8] After his discharge Kirkland traveled to Detroit where his mother had relocated. After a day's work at the Ford Rouge Plant, Kirkland played his guitar at house parties, and there he met John Lee Hooker. Kirkland, a frequent second guitarist in recordings from 1949–1962. "It was difficult playin' behind Hooker but I had a good ear and was able to move in behind him on anything he did."[9]

Kirkland fashioned his own style of playing open chords, and transformed the rough, porch style delta blues into the electric age by using his thumb, rather than a guitar pick.[citation needed] He secured his own series of recordings with Sid Nathan of King Records in 1953, at Fortune Records in 1958 and, by 1961, on his own album It's the Blues Man, with the King Curtis Band[6] for Prestige Records.

He wrote and recorded "I Must Have Done Somebody Wrong" for Fortune in 1959. As "Done Somebody Wrong", it was substantially appropriated without credit by Elmore James in 1960,[10] and is most well known for a 1971 interpretation by The Allman Brothers Band.[11] Kirkland remained aggrieved about the matter, saying in 1984, "[I wrote] 'Must Have Done Somebody Wrong,' which Elmore James stole from me and the Allman Brothers performed."[12]

Kirkland became Hooker's road manager and the two traveled from Detroit to the Deep South on many tours, the last being in 1962 when Hooker abandoned Kirkland to go overseas. Kirkland found his way to Macon, Georgia and began performing with Otis Redding as his guitarist and band leader.[6] As Eddie Kirk, he released "The Hawg" as a single on Volt Records in 1963.[13] The record was overshadowed by Rufus Thomas's recordings, and Kirkland, discouraged by the music industry and his own lack of education to change the situation, turned to his other skill and sought work as an auto mechanic to earn a living for his growing family.[citation needed]

In 1970, one of the revivals of the blues was taking place. Peter B. Lowry found Kirkland in Macon and convinced him to record again. His first sessions were done in a motel room, resulting in the acoustic, solo LP Front and Center; his second was a studio-recorded band album, The Devil and Other Blues Demons. Both were released on Lowry's Trix Records label. It was during the mid-1970s that Kirkland befriended the British blues-rock band, Foghat.[14] Kirkland remained with Lowry, Trix, and was based in the Hudson Valley for twelve years. It was during this period that Kirkland appeared on Don Kirshner's Rock Concert with Muddy Waters, Honeyboy Edwards, and Foghat. "Eddie's thumb pick and fingers style give him freedom to play powerful chord riffs rich in rhythms and harmonic tension. He plays like a funky pianist, simultaneously covering bass lines, chord kick, and counterpoint."[15]

In 1973, Kirkland performed at the Ann Arbor Blues and Jazz Festival. John Sinclair decided that they should salute Detroit blues musicians and had them play on the Saturday afternoon; these included Bobo Jenkins, Baby Boy Warren, One String Sam, Little Junior Cannaday, and Boogie Woogie Red.

Eddie Kirkland, National Downhome Blues Festival, Atlanta, Georgia, 1984. Photo by Jeff Titon.
Eddie Kirkland, Atlanta, 1984.

The 1990s brought Randy Labbe as manager, booking agent and on his own record label, Deluge, who recorded Kirkland. Three albums were produced during this Maine period, which included Gregg Hoover on guitar, James Thacker on bass, and Darren Thiboutot on drums.[16] Darren Thiboutot Jr., son of Darren Thiboutot sat in with the band at The Venue in Portland, Maine.[17] One live, one with a guest appearance from Hooker and one containing a duet with Christine Ohlman. By 2000, Kirkland was on his own again, always doing his own driving to concerts in his Ford Country Squire, crossing the country several times a year. Labeled now as the Road Warrior, "A thickset, powerful man in the waistcoat and pants of a pin strip suit; red shirt, medallion, shades and a black leather cap over a bandanna, his heavy leather overcoat slung over his arm,.... he's already a Road Warrior par excellence."[18]

Kirkland contributed two songs to long'time friends Foghat's album Last Train Home in 2010.[19]

Well into his eighties, Kirkland continued to drive himself to gigs along the coast and in Europe, frequently playing with the Wentus Blues Band [fi] from Finland.

A documentary short entitled Pick Up the Pieces was made about a year in Kirkland's life (2010).


Kirkland's last performance, the night before his death, was at Dunedin Brewery.[citation needed]

He died in a car accident on February 27, 2011, in Crystal River, Florida. At approximately 8:30 a.m. a bus hit Kirkland's car, a 1998 Ford Taurus wagon. Reportedly Kirkland attempted to make a U-turn on U.S. 98 and Oak Park Boulevard, putting him directly in the path of a Greyhound bus. The bus struck the vehicle on the right side and pushed it approximately 200 feet from the point of impact.[20] Kirkland suffered serious injuries and was transported by helicopter to Tampa General Hospital, where he died a short time later. The bus driver and 13 passengers on the bus were not hurt.[3]


Eddie Kirkland is the great-grandfather of TV personality Elie Kirkland and Grandfather of Eddie Kirkland Jr. , Nancy Pleas, Tiren Pleas Jr & Tirese Pleas. Kirkland was survived by his wife, Mary, and nine children.[1] He was predeceased by one child Betty, and his first wife Ida.



Year Title Record label Credited to
1952 "It's Time for Lovin' to be Done" RPM Records Little Eddie Kirkland
1953 "Please Don't Think I'm Nosey" King Records
1953 "No Shoes" King Records
1959 "I Need You Baby"/"I Must Have Done Somebody Wrong" Fortune Records
1961 "Train Done Gone" Lu Pine Records
1963 "Them Bones" Volt Records Eddie Kirk
1963 "The Hawg" Volt Records Eddie Kirk
1964 "Let Me Walk With You" King Records
1964 "Monkey Tonight" King Records
1964 "Hog Killin' Time" King Records
1964 "Have Mercy on Me" Prestige Records Eddie 'Bluesman' Kirkland
1964 "Every Hour, Every Minute" Hi Q Records
1970 "Lonesome Talkin' Blues" Trix Records
1983 "Disco Mary" Sunland Records Eddie 'Bluesman' Kirkland



Year Title Record label Notes
1962 It's the Blues Man! Tru-Sound Records
1965 Dem Bones Volt Records
1965 I Found a New Love Volt Records
1972 Front and Center Trix Records
1974 The Devil and Other Blues Demons Trix Records
1981 Pick Up The Pieces JSP Records
1988 Have Mercy Pulsar Records Reissued by Evidence Records
1992 All Around the World Deluge Records
1993 Some Like It Raw Deluge Records
1995 Where You Get Your Sugar? Deluge Records
1997 Lonely Street Telarc Records
1999 Movin' On JSP Records with the Nutmeg Horns
1998 Hastings Street Grease, Vol 1 Blue Suit Records
1999 The Complete Trix Recordings 32 Records
1999 Hastings Street Grease, Vol 2 Blue Suit Records
2004 Democrat Blues Blue Suit Records
2005 Way It Was Red Lightnin' Records
2006 Booty Blues Hedda Records
2010 Last Train Home Foghat Records with Foghat
2017 Long Gone Gypsy Backyard Records


With John Lee Hooker


  1. ^ a b c "Eddie Kirkland". The Daily Telegraph. London. March 8, 2011.
  2. ^ There are conflicting dates of birth given for Kirkland. Most sources cite August 16, 1923, but some state the year as 1928. One source also quotes Dothan, Alabama, as his birthplace.
  3. ^ a b Zimmer, Beau (March 1, 2011). "Blues guitar legend Eddie Kirkland "Gypsy of the Blues" killed in Citrus County bus crash". WTSP. Retrieved February 26, 2013.
  4. ^ Du Noyer, Paul (2003). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Music (1st ed.). Fulham, London: Flame Tree Publishing. p. 181. ISBN 1-904041-96-5.
  5. ^ Russell, Tony (April 21, 2011). "Eddie Kirkland obituary". Theguardian.com. Retrieved December 23, 2017.
  6. ^ a b c Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues – From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books Limited. p. 132. ISBN 1-85868-255-X.
  7. ^ Tom Yearshaw, "Eddie Kirkland...after the Festival". Original Blues Festival Guide: 2004. p. 58
  8. ^ Jim O'Neal, "Dealing with the Devil at the Crossroads," Living Blues: Issue #183, Vol.37. #2, p. 104
  9. ^ Steve Gronda, transcribed and edited by Bez Turner, "Eddie Kirkland, Detroit was flooded with the Blues". Juke Blues: Issue #4 Spring 1986.
  10. ^ Franz, Steve (2003). The Amazing Secret History of Elmore James. St. Louis: BlueSource Publications. pp. 108–111. ISBN 978-0-9718038-1-7. (While self-published, the book has been very favorably reviewed in an academic journal article – see Komara, Edward M. (2004). "Review of The Amazing Secret History of Elmore James". Notes. 60 (3): 688–690. doi:10.1353/not.2004.0024. S2CID 192601562. – and has been used and cited by many books and reference volumes.)
  11. ^ Rys, Dan (May 28, 2017). "7 Great Blues Songs the Allman Brothers Made Their Own". Billboard.
  12. ^ Morse, Steve. (November 24, 1984). "Eddie Kirkland Plays 'Rock 'N' Roll Soul'". The Boston Globe. p. 10. ProQuest 294208761 – via ProQuest.
  13. ^ Bill Dahl. "Eddie Kirkland | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved November 5, 2016.
  14. ^ Santelli, Robert (1993). The Big Book of Blues: a biographical encyclopedia. Penguin Books. 0-14-01-5939-8
  15. ^ Chris McDermott, "Eddie Kirkland", Guitar Player, January 1994. p.29
  16. ^ Darren Thiboutot. "Darren Thiboutot | Songs". AllMusic. Retrieved November 5, 2016.
  17. ^ "Darren Thiboutot, Cheverus High School - The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram". Pressherald.com. June 12, 2016. Retrieved November 5, 2016.
  18. ^ Murray, Charles Shaar, (2000) Boogie Man : the adventures of John Lee Hooker in the American Twentieth Century. St. Martin's Press; 0-312-26563-8
  19. ^ "Last Train Home - Foghat - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved November 29, 2018.
  20. ^ "Tampa Bay news, weather forecast, radar, and sports from WTVT-TV - FOX 13 News | FOX 13 Tampa Bay". Myfoxtampabay.com. Retrieved November 5, 2016.
  21. ^ a b "Eddie Kirkland". Discogs. Retrieved November 29, 2018.
  22. ^ a b "Eddie Kirkland". Soulfulkindamusic.net. Retrieved November 29, 2018.
  23. ^ "Eddie Kirkland - Album Discography - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved November 29, 2018.

External links[edit]