J.D. Short

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J.D. Short
Also known as Jelly Jaw Short, Jaydee Short, and possibly others, including Spider Carter.[1]
Born (1902-02-26)February 26, 1902
Port Gibson, Mississippi, United States
Died October 21, 1962(1962-10-21) (aged 60)
St. Louis Missouri, United States
Genres Delta blues, country blues, acoustic blues
Occupation(s) Singer, harmonicist, songwriter
Instruments Vocals, guitar, harmonica[2]
Years active Mid 1920s–1962
Labels Various

J.D. Short (February 26, 1902 – October 21, 1962)[3] was an American Delta blues singer, guitarist[4] and harmonicist. He was a multi-instrumentalist, and possessed a distinctive vibrato laden, singing voice.[2] Early in his career, Short recorded under a number of pseudonyms, including Jelly Jaw Short.[1] His more noteworthy works included "Lonesome Swamp Rattlesnake" and "You're Tempting Me."[3]


Born in Port Gibson, Mississippi, Short learned to play both the piano and guitar at a young age. He later mastered the harmonica, saxophone, clarinet and drums. Short performed locally in the Mississippi Delta at house parties, but relocated in 1923 to St. Louis, Missouri.[2][5]

Short went on to play along with the Neckbones, Henry Spaulding, David "Honeyboy" Edwards, Douglas Williams, and Big Joe Williams.[6] In the 1930s, Short recorded for the Vocalion label.[1] Henry Townsend in his autobiography, A Blue Life, told of incidents in St. Louis that affected both his and Short's lives. Seemingly due to jealousy of his musical standing, Short attacked and twice stabbed Townsend. Later, by way of revenge, Townsend shot Short in his genitals, which resulted in Short losing both of his testicles.[7] The account was also mentioned in Townsend's obituary in The Guardian.[8] Short continued performing in St. Louis after World War II, often as a one-man band and sometimes with his cousin, Big Joe Williams.[5]

Nevertheless, Short effectively disappeared from the music industry for over two decades, before re-emerging at the start of the blues revival period. He achieved belated national recognition, and went on to record further tracks for Delmark and Folkways.[6] Some of his recordings were later released on Sonet.[1]

Short was featured in the 1963 documentary film, The Blues, singing "Slidin' Delta".[2] However, he had already died in October 1962 of a heart attack, in St. Louis, at the age of 60.[3]

Compilation albums[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "J.D. Short discography". Wirz.de. Retrieved 2014-01-26. 
  2. ^ a b c d Ron Wynn. "J.D. Short | Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-01-26. 
  3. ^ a b c Doc Rock. "The 1960s". The Dead Rock Stars Club. Retrieved 2014-01-26. 
  4. ^ Dixon RMW, Godrich J, Rye HW (1997). Blues and Gospel Records 1890-1943. 4th ed. Oxford: OUP, p. 794
  5. ^ a b "J.D. Short Biography". OLDIES.com. 1902-12-26. Retrieved 2014-01-26. 
  6. ^ a b "Slidin' Delta". Rockument.com. Retrieved August 30, 2010. 
  7. ^ Townsend, Henry (1999). A Blues Life (1st ed.). Urbana: University of Illinois Press. pp. 46–50. ISBN 0-252-02526-1. 
  8. ^ "Henry Townsend". Document-records.com. Retrieved 2014-01-26. 

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