David 'Honeyboy' Edwards leaves blues legacy

August 31, 2011 5:14:56 AM PDT
The blues world is mourning the loss of one of the oldest surviving Delta bluesman. Grammy award winning David "Honeyboy" Edwards died of congestive heart failure Monday morning in his Chicago home at the age of 96.

Michael Frank had always studied the blues by reading about it in magazines and listening to albums. But he says Edwards taught him so much more about the art form. For the past 39 years, Frank devoted his career to the bluesman as his manager.

"A friend, a musical comrade, business partner. For me, he was a personal window into the blues," said Frank.

Edwards is believed to have been the oldest surviving member of the first generation of Mississippi Delta blues singers, performing with virtually every notable blues musician throughout his career.

Edwards was still playing as many as 100 shows a year when he stopped touring in 2008 and performed the occasional gig until this year. His last appearance was in April.

"Even on nights when he told me he didn't feel up to it, didn't feel in the mood or was dragging, he pushed through it," said Frank.

Edwards settled in Chicago in the 1950s and years later became a fixture at the Chicago Blues Fest organized by Barry Dolins to celebrate the legends of blues.

"The city's Chciago Blues Festival was put together to me to honor these performers," said Dolins.

Edwards chronicled his life experiences in his 1997 memoirs, "The World Don't Owe Me Nothing." His fans say that although he is the last link to the Delta blues, his legacy lives on.

"That whole generation is gone. But to me they're not forgotten," said Dolins.

Edwards performed with the king of Delta blues, Robert Johnson., when they were both young men in Mississippi.

His visitation will be Thursday evening from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at McCollough Funeral Home on 75th Street. The funeral details are still being finalized.


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