[JPL] Henry Townsend, 96, Blues Guitarist, Dies

r durfee rdurfee2003 at yahoo.com
Fri Sep 29 16:38:52 EDT 2006

One of the great ones...

September 29, 2006
Henry Townsend, 96, Blues Guitarist, Dies 

ST. LOUIS, Sept. 28 (AP) — Henry Townsend, who ran
away to St. Louis when he was 9 and stayed for a long
career as a blues guitarist, died on Sunday. He was

Mr. Townsend lived in the same brick bungalow in St.
Louis he had shared for 40 years with his wife,
Vernell, who performed with him before her death, but
he died while in Grafton, Wis., where he was being
honored as the last surviving artist who recorded for
the old Paramount label, said John May, chairman of
the St. Louis Blues Society. 

The Paramount label was responsible for about a
quarter of all the blues material recorded from 1929
to 1932.

Henry Townsend was born in Shelby, Miss., and grew up
in Cairo, Ill., before running away to avoid a
whipping from his father, he said in an Associated
Press interview in June. He decided on a career as a
blues guitarist after hearing the guitarist Lonnie
Johnson perform at the old Booker T. Washington
Theater in St. Louis.

Mr. Townsend and other blues musicians of his era fell
into near oblivion when the jukebox replaced live
music and the materials needed for the war effort
slowed down the record industry, but he never stopped

He won a National Heritage Fellowship in 1985 from the
National Endowment for the Arts.

Roy Durfee
P.O. Box 40219
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87196-0219
rdurfee2003 at yahoo.com

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