J.D. Short

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J.D. Short
Also known asJelly Jaw Short, Jaydee Short, and possibly others, including Spider Carter[1]
Born(1902-12-26)December 26, 1902
Port Gibson, Mississippi, United States
DiedOctober 21, 1962(1962-10-21) (aged 59)
St. Louis, Missouri, United States
GenresDelta blues, country blues, acoustic blues
Occupation(s)Singer, harmonicist, songwriter
InstrumentsVocals, guitar, harmonica[2]
Years activeMid-1920s–1962

J.D. Short (December 26, 1902 – October 21, 1962)[3] was an American Delta blues singer, guitarist[4] and harmonicist with a distinctive vibrato-laden singing voice.[2] Early in his career, he recorded under a number of pseudonyms, including Jelly Jaw Short.[1] His noteworthy works include "Lonesome Swamp Rattlesnake" and "You're Tempting Me".[5]


Short was born in Port Gibson, Mississippi. He was a cousin of Big Joe Williams and David "Honeyboy" Edwards.[3] He learned to play the piano and the guitar at an early age. He later mastered the harmonica, saxophone, clarinet and drums. He performed locally in the Mississippi Delta at house parties. In 1923 he relocated to St. Louis, Missouri.[2][6]

Short went on to play with the Neckbones, Henry Spaulding, Honeyboy Edwards, Douglas Williams, and Big Joe Williams.[7] In the 1930s, he recorded for Vocalion Records.[1] The musician Henry Townsend, in his autobiography, A Blues Life, told of an incident in St. Louis in which, seemingly out of jealousy of Townsend's musical standing, Short attacked and stabbed him twice. Later, by way of revenge, Townsend shot Short in the genitals, destroying Short's testicles.[8] The account was also mentioned in Townsend's obituary in The Guardian.[9] Short continued performing in St. Louis after World War II, often as a one-man band and sometimes with his cousin Big Joe Williams.[6]

Short disappeared from the music industry for over two decades before re-emerging during the blues revival of the 1960s. He achieved national recognition and went on to record for Delmark Records and Folkways Records.[7] Some of his recordings were later released by Sonet Records.[1]

Short appeared in the 1963 documentary film The Blues, singing "Slidin' Delta".[2]

He died of a heart attack in October 1962, at the age of 59, in St. Louis.[3]

Compilation albums[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "J.D. Short Discography". Wirz.de. Retrieved January 26, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d Wynn, Ron. "J.D. Short: Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved January 26, 2014.
  3. ^ a b c Eagle, Bob; LeBlanc, Eric S. (2013). Blues: A Regional Experience. Santa Barbara, California: Praeger. p. 217. ISBN 978-0313344237.
  4. ^ Dixon, R. M. W.; Godrich, J.; Rye, H. W. (1997). Blues and Gospel Records 1890–1943. 4th ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 794.
  5. ^ Doc Rock. "The 1960s". TheDeadRockStarsClub.com. Retrieved January 26, 2014.
  6. ^ a b "J.D. Short Biography". Oldies.com. December 26, 1902. Retrieved January 26, 2014.
  7. ^ a b "Slidin' Delta". Rockument.com. Retrieved August 30, 2010.
  8. ^ Townsend, Henry (1999). A Blues Life. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. pp. 46–50. ISBN 0-252-02526-1.
  9. ^ "Henry Townsend". Document-records.com. Retrieved January 26, 2014.

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