Riverside Hotel (Clarksdale, Mississippi)

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Coordinates: 34°11′43″N 90°34′21″W / 34.195174°N 90.572551°W / 34.195174; -90.572551

Riverside Hotel Blues Trail marker

Riverside Hotel is a hotel in Clarksdale, Mississippi, in operation since 1944. The fourth marker location on the Mississippi Blues Trail, famed for providing lodging for such blues artists as Sonny Boy Williamson II, Ike Turner, and Robert Nighthawk, it was previously the G.T. Thomas Hospital, in which Bessie Smith died in 1937.[1][2]


The Riverside Hotel is located at 615 Sunflower Avenue, in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Its original usage was as the G. T. Thomas Afro-American Hospital, Clarksdale's hospital for black patients.[3] On September 26, 1937, the singer Bessie Smith was taken to the hospital treatment after a car accident outside Clarksdale, which proved fatal.[4]

In 1943, Mrs. Z.L. Ratliff rented the eight-room structure from G.T. Thomas for use as a hotel.[5] Ratliff subsequently extended the building to include 21 guest rooms over two floors, with Thomas assisting in the conversion.[5] Ratliff purchased the building outright from Thomas's widow in 1957, and the structure has remained in the hands of the Ratliff family since.[5] Run by Frank "Rat" Ratliff for several years prior to his death on March 28, 2013,[6] the hotel is currently operated by Ratfliff's daughter, Zelena "Zee" Ratliff.[6]

Famous residents[edit]

As one of the only hotels in the state that allowed African-Americans, the Riverside played host to a great number of touring musicians, including Sonny Boy Williamson II and Duke Ellington.[7]

At some point in the mid-1940s, Ike Turner moved into the Riverside Hotel;[8] his bedroom, in which he reportedly wrote and rehearsed his song "Rocket 88,"[9] is said to have been what is now room #7.[10]

Additionally, Robert Nighthawk left his suitcase in his room at the Riverside just before he died.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Cloues, Kacey. "Great Souther Getaways - Mississippi" (PDF). www.atlantamagazine.com. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-06-25. Retrieved 2008-05-31.
  2. ^ "Historical marker placed on Mississippi Blues Trail". Associated Press. 2007-01-25. Retrieved 2007-02-09.
  3. ^ "Mississippi Blues Trail". Mississippi Blues Commission. Mississippi Blues Commission. Retrieved 26 March 2017.
  4. ^ Love, Spencie (1997). One Blood: The Death and Resurrection of Charles R. Drew. North Carolina: The University of North Carolina Press. p. 67. ISBN 978-0-8078-4682-7.
  5. ^ a b c "Former Miss Hospital Gives Authentic Blues Experiencel". Associated Press. Fox News. Retrieved 26 March 2017.
  6. ^ a b "Riverside Hotel". Rat Pack St. Louis. Nico Productions of MojoRat LLC. Retrieved 26 March 2017.
  7. ^ Drozdowski, Ted. "King of Rhythm: Rock and Roll Pioneer Ike Turner November 5, 1931 - December 12, 2007". Gibson.com lifestyle features 12.13.2007. Gibson, Inc. Archived from the original on 26 September 2011. Retrieved 1 October 2011. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  8. ^ "Riverside Hotel". Retrieved 2007-02-09.
  9. ^ "Riverside Hotel". Retrieved 2007-02-09.
  10. ^ "Riverside Hotel". Rat Pack St. Louis. Nico Productions of MojoRat LLC. Retrieved 2 October 2011.
  11. ^ "The Riverside Hotel and Robert Nighthawk's Suitcase". Teresa Brooks. Retrieved 2017-03-26.

External links[edit]