February 2, 1901|
Bolton, Mississippi, United States
|Died||April 22, 1975
Chicago, Illinois, United States
|Occupation(s)||Guitarist, singer, songwriter, musician|
|Instruments||Guitar, vocals, violin|
Walter Vinson (February 2, 1901 – April 22, 1975) was an American Memphis blues guitarist, singer and songwriter. He was a member of the Mississippi Sheiks, worked with Bo Chatmon and his brothers, and co-wrote the blues standard "Sitting on Top of the World". He is erroneously known as Walter Vincson or Walter Vincent. He sometimes recorded as Walter Jacobs, using his mother's maiden name.
He worked with Son Spand, Rubin Lacey and Charlie McCoy in the early to mid-1920s. In 1928 he teamed with Lonnie Chatmon to form the Mississippi Sheiks. The Sheiks and related groups, such as the Mississippi Mud Steppers, the Mississippi Hot Footers and Blacksnakes, recorded about a hundred sides in the first half of the 1930s, among them original compositions (probably by Vinson) such as "The World Is Going Wrong" and "I've Got Blood in My Eyes for You" (1931) (both recorded by Bob Dylan) or the topical "Sales Tax" (1934). Vinson claimed to have composed "Sitting on Top of the World" one morning, after playing at a white dance in Greenwood, Mississippi.
After the Sheiks split up in 1933, Vinson moved around the United States, recording with various musicians, including Leroy Carter and Mary Butler. He moved from Jackson, Mississippi, to New Orleans and ultimately to Chicago. By the mid-1940s his appearances in blues clubs had dwindled. After a lengthy break from music, he reappeared as a performer in 1960. He played at music festivals and recorded further tracks over the next decade, before the onset of hardening of the arteries curtailed his public appearances. Ill health forced him to move to a Chicago nursing home in 1972.
In 2009, a concert produced by Steve Salter, of the nonprofit organization Killer Blues, raised monies to place a headstone on Vinson's grave. The concert was held at the Howmet Playhouse Theater in Whitehall, Michigan, and featured the blues musicians Thomas Esparza and Lonnie Blonde. The event was a success, and a stone was placed in October 2009.
|Year of release||Album title||Record label|
|1991||Complete Recorded Works (1928–1941)||Document Records|
- Ankeny, Jason (April 22, 1975). "Walter Vinson: Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-01-31.
- Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues: From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books. p. 146. ISBN 1-85868-255-X.
- Ginell, Cary (1994). Milton Brown and the Founding of Western Swing. University of Illinois Press. p. 284. ISBN 0-252-02041-3.
- "Walter Vinson, Complete Recorded Works (1928–1941): Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. August 1, 1941. Retrieved 2014-01-31.
- "Walter Vinson". Thebluestrail.com. Retrieved 2014-02-04.
- Moon, Tom (August 28, 2008). 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die. Books.google.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-02-04.
- "Killer Blues Headstone Project". Killerblues.net. Retrieved 2015-09-29.