R. L. Boyce

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R. L. Boyce
Birth nameRobert L. Boyce
Born(1955-08-15)August 15, 1955
Como, Mississippi, U.S.
DiedNovember 9, 2023(2023-11-09) (aged 68)
Como, Mississippi, U.S.
GenresBlues, Hill country blues, garage rock
Instrument(s)Guitar, vocals
Years active1960s–2023

Robert L. Boyce[1] (August 15, 1955 – November 9, 2023) was an American blues singer, songwriter, and guitarist born and raised in Como, Mississippi.[2]

Life and career[edit]

Boyce was a protege of Hill country blues musicians including R. L. Burnside and Mississippi Fred McDowell.[3]

Boyce began his career in the early 1960s playing drums for his uncle, the fife and drum performer Othar Turner.[4] Later he was the drummer for Jessie Mae Hemphill and is heard on her 1990 album, Feelin' Good.

His debut album, Ain't the Man's Alright, was released in 2013 and featured musicians including Cedric Burnside, Luther Dickinson, and Calvin Jackson.[5]

His second album release, Roll and Tumble, was released on September 8, 2017, on Waxploitation Records. The album included the father and son double drumming team of Cedric Burnside (R. L. Burnside's grandson and drummer) and Calvin Jackson. The album was produced by Luther Dickinson and David Katznelson.[6] It was nominated for a 2018 Grammy Award in the Best Traditional Blues Album category.[7]

The cover of Roll and Tumble is a portrait of R. L. Boyce, painted by the contemporary artist James Jean.[8]

In February 2023, he was named as one of nine National Heritage Fellowships by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), alongside Roen Hufford, Elizabeth James-Perry, Luis Tapia, Wu Man, and others.[9]


Boyce died in Como, Mississippi, on November 9, 2023, at the age of 68, following a diagnosis of lung cancer.[10] His death was announced in a press release by the National Endowment of the Arts on November 14.[11]

Studio albums[edit]

  • Ain't the Man's Alright (Sutro Park, 2013)
  • Roll and Tumble (Waxploitation Records, 2017)
  • Rattlesnake Boogie (Waxploitation, 2018)
  • Ain't Gonna Play Too Long (Waxploitation, 2018)

Documentaries featuring Boyce[edit]

  • Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues: A Musical Journey (2003) featured the song "Shortnin'" / "Henduck Traditional" by Otha Turner which included Boyce on bass and snare drums.[12]
  • M for Mississippi (2008) included an interview with Boyce[13]
  • Moonshine & Mojo Hands (2014) included an interview with Boyce[14]
  • I Am The Blues (2015) included a performance by Boyce[15]

Awards and honors[edit]


  1. ^ Eagle, Bob; LeBlanc, Eric S. (2013). Blues: A Regional Experience. Santa Barbara, California: Praeger. p. 235. ISBN 978-0313344237.
  2. ^ "3x3: RL Boyce on Fred McDowell, Feather Pillows, and Fruits and Vegetables". The Bluegrass Situation. September 6, 2017. Retrieved October 31, 2017.
  3. ^ "C&L's Late Nite Music Club With R.L. Boyce". Crooks and Liars. Retrieved October 31, 2017.
  4. ^ "The Line of Best Fit". The Line of Best Fit. Retrieved October 31, 2017.
  5. ^ "Ain't the Man's Alright: Releases". AllMusic.com. Retrieved June 25, 2023.
  6. ^ "R.L. Boyce Official Bio". Waxploitation.com. Retrieved October 31, 2017.
  7. ^ a b "Artist: R.L. Boyce". Grammy.com. Recording Academy. Retrieved June 23, 2023.
  8. ^ "James Jean Instagram". James Jean Instagram. Archived from the original on December 26, 2021. Retrieved October 31, 2017.
  9. ^ "National Endowment for the Arts Announces 2023 NEA National Heritage Fellows". Americanfolkloresociety.org. February 28, 2023. Retrieved September 26, 2023.
  10. ^ Greene, Alex (November 15, 2023). "Bluesman R.L. Boyce To Be Honored in Como". Memphis Flyer. Retrieved November 19, 2023.
  11. ^ "National Endowment for the Arts Statement on the Death of National Heritage Fellow R.L. Boyce". www.arts.gov. November 14, 2023. Retrieved November 15, 2023.
  12. ^ "R.L. Boyce - Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved October 31, 2017.
  13. ^ "M for Mississippi: A Road Trip through the Birthplace of the Blues". IMDB.com. Retrieved October 31, 2017.
  14. ^ "Moonshine & Mojo Hands". IMDb.com. Retrieved October 31, 2017.
  15. ^ "'I Am the Blues': Film Review". Hollywood Reporter. July 16, 2017. Retrieved October 31, 2017.
  16. ^ a b c "Award Winners and Nominees [search]". blues.org. The Blues Foundation. 2022. Retrieved June 25, 2023.
  17. ^ "NEA National Heritage Fellowships 2023". Arts.gov. National Endowment for the Arts. Retrieved June 23, 2023.

External links[edit]