Sylvester Weaver

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This article is about the country-blues musician. For the former president of NBC, see Pat Weaver.
Sylvester Weaver
Sylvester Weaver with Sara Martin.
Background information
Born (1897-07-25)July 25, 1897
Louisville, Kentucky, United States
Died April 4, 1960(1960-04-04) (aged 62)
Louisville, Kentucky, United States
Genres Blues, country blues
Occupation(s) Guitarist
Instruments Slide guitar, guitjo
Associated acts Sara Martin, Walter Beasley, Helen Humes

Sylvester Weaver (July 25, 1896 or 1897 – April 4, 1960)[1] was an American blues guitar player and pioneer of country blues.[2]


On October 23, 1923, he recorded in New York City with the blues singer Sara Martin "Longing for Daddy Blues" / "I've Got to Go and Leave My Daddy Behind", and two weeks later as a soloist "Guitar Blues" / "Guitar Rag". The latter titles were the first blues guitar instrumentals.[3] Both recordings were released on Okeh Records. These recordings are the very first country-blues recordings and the first known recorded songs using the slide guitar style. "Guitar Rag" (played on a Guitjo) became a blues classic and was covered in the 1930s by Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys as "Steel Guitar Rag", also becoming a country music standard.

Louisville city directories published between 1916 and 1930 indicate that Weaver, like his parents, lived most of his life in the Smoketown neighborhood and that he juggled his musical career with employment in a variety of blue-collar settings. Occupational identifications in those directories include porter (1916-1920), packer (1925), apartment janitor (1928), and chauffeur (1930). The 1938 directory suggests the possibility of financial hardship after the Great Depression; this directory indicates that he had returned to live with his parents by that time. By 1949, he and his wife Dorothy had moved to a more upscale area near Cherokee Park, where they lived in a basement apartment, probably a modest accommodation. The timing of his move from Smoketown is roughly contemporaneous with the construction of the Sheppard Square housing project, so he and his parents may have been displaced when the project absorbed his Roselane Court and their Clay Street addresses.

Weaver recorded until 1927, sometimes accompanied by Sara Martin, about 50 additional songs. On some recordings from 1927 he was accompanied by Walter Beasley and the singer Helen Humes. Weaver often used the bottleneck-style method, playing his guitar with a knife. His recordings were quite successful but in 1927 he retired and went back to Louisville until his death in 1960. Though many country blues artists had a revival from the 1950s on, Weaver died almost forgotten.

In 1992 his complete works were released on two CDs, the same year his (up to then anonymous) grave received a headstone by engagement of the Louisville-based Kentuckiana Blues Society (KBS). Furthermore, the KBS has annually honored since 1989 persons who rendered outstanding services to the blues with their Sylvester Weaver Award.


  • Complete Recorded Works Vol. 1 (1923–1927), 1992, Document Records
  • Complete Recorded Works Vol. 2 (1927), 1992, Document Records


  1. ^ Doc Rock. "The 1960s". The Dead Rock Stars Club. Retrieved 2015-08-30. 
  2. ^ Du Noyer, Paul (2003). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Music (1st ed.). Fulham, London: Flame Tree Publishing. p. 181. ISBN 1-904041-96-5. 
  3. ^ Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues: From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books Limited. p. 12. ISBN 1-85868-255-X. 

External links[edit]

The content of this article comes from the equivalent German-language Wikipedia article (retrieved August 10, 2006).