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Blind Lemon Jefferson

On 24/09/1893: Blind Lemon Jefferson was born. Though there is some confusion about his date of birth. He was born in Coutchman, Texas and his full birth name was Lemon Henry Jefferson. From his birth he was blind. He would start playing guitar in his teens. Jefferson would soon be a street musician, playing on street corners and outside barber shops in East Texas.
In the early 1910s, he would travel to Dallas frequently. There he would meet the blues musician Lead Belly. It is thought that he moved to the Deep Ellum area of Dallas in 1917. There he would meet T Bone Walker. Jefferson taught Walker how to play blues guitar and in return Walker would sometimes act as his guide.
Around December 1925 he went to Chicago, Illinois to record. He was one of the first successful solo guitarist and male vocalists. His first two recordings were gospel songs "I Want to Be Like Jesus in My Heart" and "All I Want Is That Pure Religion". He recorded them under the name Deacon L. J. Bates.
In March 1926 he recorded again. The first songs under his name were "Booster Blues" and "Dry Southern Blues", which were both hits. "Got the Blues" and "Long Lonesome Blues" were also released from the session and were successful too. The two songs would be re-recorded at Marsh Laboratories in May 1926, which had better facilities. Between 1926 and 1929 he recorded around 100 songs. Of those 43 were released and all but one of them with Paramount Records.
Jefferson would be hugely successful and Paramount became arguably the biggest blues label of the 1920s. He was given a car "worth over $700" by producer Mayo Williams. Jefferson was unhappy with his royalties, though.
In 1927 Willaims moved to Okeh Records and Jefferson joined him. They released the song "Matchbox Blues" which was backed with the song "Black Snake Moan". It would be his only recordings with Okeh as he still had contractual obligations with Paramount. When he returned to Paramount, they recorded new versions of the two songs. In the same year, he used the pseudonym Deacon L. J. Bates again when recording "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean".
On 19 December 1929 Jefferson died of what was described as "probably acute myocarditis". There is a number of theories as to how he died, ranging from being poisoned by a jealous lover to a heart attack after a dog attack at night.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame selected Jefferson's song "Matchbox Blues" as one of the 500 songs that shaped rock and roll.
In 1980 he was inducted into the inaugural Blues Hall of Fame.

The Music History Calendar is written by the Blues Rock artist Marshland Pete
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