Blues Then and Now - The History of the Blues (Chapter 6, page 2 of 10)


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Chapter 6

Patton was not known to be a religious man, but in 1934 he recorded several sacred songs that he learned from Bill C. Patton, an Elder in his church and also married to Charley's mother. Bill raised Charley from childhood. One of the hymns that Charley recorded on Vocalion Records in New York was "On Death" and he used the pseudonym Elder J.J. Hadley. Bill C. Patton was not Charley's biological father. He was the result of one of his mother's earlier lovers. Henderson Chatmon, a fiddler and father of a musical family of a black string band that performed for a predominantly white audience during the 1920s and '30s. They called themselves the 'Mississippi Sheiks."

Charley spent much of his youth with the Chatmon family and Sam Chatmon, son of Henderson referred to Patton as his half brother. The Mississippi Sheiks, eleven in number were versatile in their performance. Their instrumentation included the clarinet, piano, guitars and fiddles. The band's repertoire was a variety of music, blues, ragtime, jazz, spirituals, show tunes, minstrel tunes and white country dance music. They recorded over 50 sides for the Okeh Label. Some of their biggest hits were, "Loose like That," "Sitting On Top of the World," "Step and Listen Blues" and "Blood in My Eyes." These tunes were so successful in the 1930s that Howlin' Wolf, Hackberry Ramblers, Doc Watson, Bob Dvlan, Ray Charles, Erie Clapton and the Grateful Dead made cover records on the same tunes.

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