Remembering David 'Honeyboy' Edwards, the last of the Delta bluesman

September 1, 2011

Jason Marck

Download Story
(Flickr/Bengt Nyman)
David 'Honeyboy' Edwards was known as the 'Last of the Delta Bluesmen.'

Earlier this week, Chicago said goodbye to a musician some hailed as the last of the Delta bluesmen. Eight Forty-Eight’s Jason Marck shared a remembrance of David “Honeyboy” Edwards.

“This record of roamin’ and rambling blues will be sung and played on the guitar by David Edwards, who lives near Cohomo Mississippi,” folklorist Alan Lomax began as he introduced David “Honeyboy” Edwards for a Library of Congress recording in 1942. Edwards died this week in his Chicago home.

Edwards was born in the Mississippi Delta and he learned to play the blues the old fashioned way.

“The veteran musicians would find young kids who had ambitions to play and would actually take them on the road with them,” Steve Cushing host of the syndicated program Blues Before Sunrise explained. In Honeyboy’s case, Cushing said, that was Big Joe Williams. 

Early in his career, Edwards played with the likes of Robert Johnson, Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters. Sadly, those days weren’t well documented because he spent most of that time hopping from town to town just trying to make a living.

Edwards spoke to former WBEZ host and producer Dan Bindert in 2008; he was in a great mood that day—he was nominated for a Grammy, which he won days after the interview aired. In addition to talking about the blues life, he played a couple of songs, including “Catfish Blues.”

Honeyboy Edwards moved to Chicago in 1956 and played in local bars through the late ‘60s. In 1972, he met Michael Frank, a young blues fan and musician. The friends formed the Honeyboy Edwards Blues Band. A few years later, Frank would start Earwig Records and record Edwards many times over the next 30 or so years. 

Edwards played in a variety of styles and his technique involved both intricate fingerpicking and attacking bottleneck slide. But he always stuck to his notion of what makes for good blues.

Edwards will be remembered for his music, awards and longevity; but Honeyboy Edwards he is also remembered as a genuinely good person.  Again, Steve Cushing.

“I think Honeyboy was one of the nicest guys that I’ve met. And he was the first blues interview that I ever attempted, this was back around 1972 and I didn’t know what the hell I was talking about. And he was just so nice and so patient and I have liked him ever since then,” Cushing said.

David “Honeyboy” Edwards was 96. 

Visitation for Honeyboy Edwards is Thursday September 1, 2:00 -7:00 p.m., There will be an open mic at the funeral home from 7:00-8:00 p.m., followed by a gathering of fans and friends at Lee's Unleaded 7401 S. Chicago Ave.from 8:00 p.m. until midnight.
The funeral is Friday at noon sharp, open to family and friends.

McCullough Funeral & Cremation Services
851 E. 75th St, Chicago 60619.
Tel 773-488-8900