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 had 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."[3]


Born in Port Gibson, Mississippi, Short 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][5]

Short went on to play with the Neckbones, Henry Spaulding, David "Honeyboy" Edwards, Douglas Williams, and Big Joe Williams.[6] In the 1930s, Short recorded for Vocalion Records.[1] The musician Henry Townsend, in his autobiography, A Blue 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 his genitals, and Short's testicles were lost.[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]

Short disappeared from the music industry for over two decades, before re-emerging during the blues revival. He achieved national recognition and went on to record for Delmark Records and Folkways Records.[6] 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 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 Wynn, Ron. "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, R. M. W., Godrich, J., Rye, H. W. (1997). Blues and Gospel Records 1890–1943. 4th ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 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. 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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