The Blues Loses an Ambassador – Honey Boy Edwards

By Jason  //  Blues, blues history, Delta Blues  //  4 Comments

Honeyboy Edwards Dies at 96.  The blues will surely miss him.

David “Honeyboy” Edwards was possibly one of the last remaining living legends of the Delta Blues.  He was an Ambassador – a man who fit in with dignity, who was practically and Emperor when it came to blues and the blues scene.

Honeyboy had just finished up his last performance – a nice one one done outside of the Cathead store in downtown Clarksdale, MS.  He had announced he was going to stop touring because of his health.  Of course, no one knew how bad it really was.  Just a few short days after his announcement, Honeyboy died of congestive heart failure in his South Shore apartment at 96 years old.  He will surely be missed.

This site, over they ears, has indeed had some differences with Honeyboy.  Our research and evidence points to the fact that he may never have even known who Robert Johnson was, let alone have known him personally.  It is quite possible this is a story Honeyboy came up with to help boost his credit on the blues scene.  The funny thing is, Honeyboy didn’t need it – his music and personality spoke for itself.

He witnessed the great flood of the Mississippi River in 1927.  In 1953, he moved to Chicago after recording “Drop Down Mama” for Chess Records. He won Grammys and had a cameo in the 2007 spoof movie “Walk Hard.”  He played in D.C. at the Black Cat Nightclub the night before the presidential inauguration.

Any way you slice it, Honeyboy never needed Robert Johnson – he was the real deal all by himself.  His music spoke volumes, and his performances were always full of soul.   Even Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones was a huge fan.  He once dropped in – unannounced – to sit in with Honeyboy at the (now closed) Boxcar blues club near his home in Southport, CN.

Mr. Edwards was born in Shaw, MS. His father, a guitarist and violinist in country jukes throughout Mississippi, bought Honeyboy a Sears guitar for $4 from a plantation worker. At 14,  Honeyboy left home to hobo with bluesman Big Joe Williams. Having to keep up with Williams’ 9 string guitar is a large contributing factor to Honeyboy’s style.   In 1935, he would travel to Beale Street in Memphis to play there.  He shortly returned home – to Greenwood, MS – after becoming homesick, where he began playing with harmonica player Big Walter Horton.

in 1997, Honeyboy penned an autobiography  The World Don’t Owe Me Nothing: The Life and Times of Delta Bluesman Honeyboy Edwards (Chicago Review Press), and in 2002 he was subject of the Scott Taradash documentary “Honeyboy.” He was also featured in Martin Scorsese’s PBS series “The Blues.”

The truth of the matter is, Honeyboy Edwards was everything.  A living legend; a friend; a mentor; a crowd pleaser.  Above all, though, Honeyboy was the blues.

Rest in Peace Honeyboy – and give em hell in Heaven.

4 Comments to “The Blues Loses an Ambassador – Honey Boy Edwards”

  • […] The Delta Blues comes a bio and discussion on the life of “Honeyboy” Edwards, a blues great who passed away a few weeks […]

  • I was lucky enough to learn from Honeyboy up in Port Townsend for 2 years. Wonderful stories about traveling with Robert Johnson and of course the fateful night Mr. Johnson was poisoned. He was full of energy and played a set from 12:00am till 1:30am and then left the stage!!! Quite a night to remember. Thank you Honeyboy…all I can say is THANK YOU!!!

  • I toured 4 times and played maybe 8 with Honeyboy . We played the last San Fransisco Blues festival together. ( just before Johnny Winter lol). To me he was a second father and a strong mentor. Honeyboy knew all the old blues guys and went to their funerals. I went to visit him at his home in Chicago about a week before he past .
    We had a nice 2 hour talk . He was still tellin bootlegging and gambling stories. I never talked to him about RJ. Believe me he was tired of talking about it. All I know is if he DIDN’T know someone he would say so.
    When I was there Billy Branch stopped by and Mavis Staples was coming by later.. Thats how much he was loved..

    Two things he said to me just before he passed:

    ” Jerry I’ll be gone soon so it’s up to you to carry on the blues”

    And just as I was walking out his bedroom door:

    ” Hey… Jerry look my hands still work purty good, as soon as I get better we’ll hit it hard again”

    Thats right this world didn’t owe him nothin.. LOL! He sure was a trooper.

    Jerry Zybach

  • I met Honeyboy at the Juke Joint Festival (+ Cat Head Mini-Fest in Clarksdale) and we hit it off – I ended up Interviewing him — his mind was as ‘sharp as a tack’ – his memories crystal clear … he and Michael Frank chatted to a packed (standing room only after all seats were taken) house at the Delta Blues Museum and Honeyboy’s stories were heartbreaking, interesting, humorous and chock full of details … he was in the best of health ‘except for my knees’ (he used a cane) and in the greatest of spirits ..his playing/singing were first rate – I spent 3 days in his company and wanted more =) ..this was in April 2011 – by August he was gone… I wanted him to live to 120!

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