Lucille Bogan

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Lucille Bogan
Lucille Bogan.jpg
Background information
Birth name Lucille Anderson
Also known as Bessie Jackson
Born (1897-04-01)April 1, 1897
Amory, Mississippi, United States
Died August 10, 1948(1948-08-10) (aged 51)
Los Angeles, California, United States
Genres Delta blues, country blues
Occupation(s) Singer
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1923–1935

Lucille Bogan (April 1, 1897 – August 10, 1948)[1] was an American blues singer, among the first to be recorded. She also recorded under the pseudonym Bessie Jackson. The music critic Ernest Borneman stated that Bogan was one of "the big three of the blues", along with Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith.[2] Many of Bogan's songs have been covered by later blues and jazz musicians, including Buddy Guy, B.B. King, and Sonny Boy Williamson.[3]

Many of her songs were sexually explicit and she was generally considered to have been a dirty blues musician.[2]

Life and career[edit]

She was born Lucille Anderson in Amory, Mississippi,[4] and raised in Birmingham, Alabama.[2] In 1914, she married Nazareth Lee Bogan, a railwayman, and gave birth to a son, Nazareth Jr., in either 1915 or 1916. She later divorced Bogan and married James Spencer, who was 22 years younger than she.

She first recorded vaudeville songs for Okeh Records in New York in 1923, with the pianist Henry Callens.[4] Later that year she recorded "Pawn Shop Blues" in Atlanta, Georgia; this was the first time a black blues singer had been recorded outside New York or Chicago.[5] In 1927 she began recording for Paramount Records in Grafton, Wisconsin, where she recorded her first big success, "Sweet Petunia", which was covered by Blind Blake. She also recorded for Brunswick Records, backed by Tampa Red and Cow Cow Davenport.[citation needed]

By 1930 her songs tended to concern drinking and sex, such as "Sloppy Drunk Blues" (covered by Leroy Carr and others) and "Tricks Ain't Walkin' No More" (later recorded by Memphis Minnie). She also recorded the original version of "Black Angel Blues", which (as "Sweet Little Angel") was covered by B.B. King and many others. With her experience in some of the rowdier juke joints of the 1920s, many of Bogan's songs, most of which she wrote herself, have thinly veiled humorous sexual references. The theme of prostitution, in particular, featured prominently in several of her recordings. One of these was "Groceries on the Shelf (Piggly Wiggly)", which was originally written and recorded by Charlie "Specks" McFadden.[6][7] Piggly Wiggly is the name of a successful American supermarket chain, operating in the Southern and Midwestern regions of the United States, which first opened in 1916.[8] Bogan used the self-service notion in her amended lyrics to the song, part of which ran "My name is Piggly Wiggly and I swear you can help yourself, And you've got to have your greenback, and it don't take nothin' else".[9]

In 1933, she returned to New York, and, apparently to conceal her identity, began recording as Bessie Jackson for the Banner label of (ARC). She was usually accompanied on piano by Walter Roland, with whom she recorded over 100 songs between 1933 and 1935, including some of her biggest commercial successes, "Seaboard Blues", "Troubled Mind", and "Superstitious Blues".[2] Her other songs include "Stew Meat Blues", "Coffee Grindin' Blues", "My Georgia Grind", "Honeycomb Man", "Mr. Screw Worm in Trouble", and "Bo Hog Blues".

Her final recordings with Roland and Josh White include two takes of "Shave 'Em Dry", recorded in New York on Tuesday, March 5, 1935. The unexpurgated alternate take is notorious for its explicit sexual references, a unique record of the lyrics sung in after-hours adult clubs.[5] According to Keith Briggs' liner notes for Document Records Complete Recordings, these were recorded either for the fun of the recording engineers, or for "clandestine distribution as a 'Party Record.'" Briggs notes that Bogan seems to be unfamiliar with the lyrics, reading them as she sings them, potentially surprised by them herself.[10] Another of her songs, "B.D. Woman's Blues", takes the position of a "bull dyke" ("B.D."), with the lyrics "Comin' a time, B.D. women, they ain't gonna need no men", "They got a head like a sweet angel and they walk just like a natural man" and "They can lay their jive just like a natural man".[4]

She appears not to have recorded after 1935. She managed her son's jazz group, Bogan's Birmingham Busters, for a time, before moving to Los Angeles shortly before her death from coronary sclerosis in 1948.[1] She is interred at the Lincoln Memorial Park, in Compton, California.[11]

Document Records issued her complete recordings in a series of releases.[12][13][14]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "The Dead Rock Stars Club: The 1950s and Earlier". Retrieved November 22, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues: From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books. p. 94. ISBN 1-85868-255-X. 
  3. ^ "Shave'Em Dry: Lucille Bogan's Queer Blues," Lorna Wheeler; Transgression and Taboo: Critical Essays, (p. 161), Messier & Batra, Eds; CCA-CPP, (2004). ISBN 0-9729471-2-4
  4. ^ a b c Chadbourne, Eugene. "Lucille Bogan". AllMusic. Retrieved November 22, 2011. 
  5. ^ a b Williamson, Nigel (2007). The Rough Guide to the Blues. ISBN 1-84353-519-X. 
  6. ^ Eagle, Bob; LeBlanc, Eric S. (2013). Blues - A Regional Experience. Santa Barbara, California, United States: Praeger Publishers. p. 134. ISBN 978-0313344237. 
  7. ^ Scott Yanow. "Complete Recorded Works 1929-1937 - Charlie McFadden | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-10-30. 
  8. ^ Fleischauer, Eric (November 3, 2009). "2 Decatur Piggly Wigglys to become Food World stores". The Decatur Daily. Retrieved 2016-10-30. 
  9. ^ John T. Edge. The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture: Foodways: Easyread Edition. Books.google.co.uk. p. 136. Retrieved 2016-10-31. 
  10. ^ Liner Notes, Lucille Bogan (Bessie Jackson) Complete Recordings, Vol. 3, 1934-1935, Document Records, BDCD-6038 (1993)
  11. ^ "Lucille Anderson Bogan". Find a Grave. Retrieved November 1, 2012. 
  12. ^ "Lucille Bogan Vol 1 1923 - 1930 - Document Records Vintage Blues and Jazz". Document-records.com. Retrieved 2016-05-12. 
  13. ^ "Lucille Bogan Vol 2 1930 - 1933 - Document Records Vintage Blues and Jazz". Document-records.com. Retrieved 2016-05-12. 
  14. ^ "Lucille Bogan Vol 3 1934 - 1935 - Document Records Vintage Blues and Jazz". Document-records.com. Retrieved 2016-05-12. 

External links[edit]