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Blues Artists That Died In 2010

We’re always saddened by the passing of blues talents that leave behind a lifetime of great music and mourning fans. We honor these bluesmen and women, obscure and well-known alike, with this list of blues artists that died in 2010.

Calvin “Fuzz” Jones

Muddy Waters Tribute Band's You're Gonna Miss MePhoto courtesy Telarc Records

From our friend and mighty blues harpist Bob Corritore (via blues guitarist Bob Margolin) comes the news of the death of legendary blues bassist Calvin “Fuzz” Jones due to complications from lung cancer. Although Jones had successfully fought cancer during the late 1990s, it had reoccurred, and after he developed pneumonia, he was rushed to the hospital in Southhaven, Mississippi where he passed away from a heart attack on Monday, August 9, 2010. He was 84 years old. A Mississippi native and long-time fixture on the Chicago blues scene, Jones was best-known as bassist for the Muddy Waters Band during the blues legend’s phenomenal runs during the decade of the 1970s.

Earl Gaines

Earl Gaines' Nothin' But The BluesPhoto courtesy Price Grabber
R&B music giant Earl Gaines, the vocalist behind the 1955 Louis Brooks & His Hi-Toppers hit “It’s Love Baby (24 Hours a Day),” has died in Nashville, Tennessee on December 31, 2009. Gaines was 74 years old. Born in Decatur, Alabama and raised on a farm, Gaines learned to sing in his local church. He moved to Nashville at the age of 16 years old to pursue a career in blues music, and taught himself the drums to help ensure steady employment. Gaines first worked as a demo singer for songwriter and local R&B scenemaker Ted Jarrett, who also got him work in the city’s thriving club scene.

John Leslie

John Leslie Blues Band's In The KitchenPhoto courtesy Price Grabber

John Leslie Nuzzo, known to the adult film industry as “John Leslie,” passed away on Sunday, December 5, 2010 from a heart attack at the age of 65. Leslie was one of the leading stars of the adult film biz of the 1970s, appearing as an actor in more than 300 movies, co-starring alongside such leading ladies as Kay Parker, Seka, and Annette Haven. He made a successful transition to the other side of the camera during the mid-1980s, directing almost 100 adult films and chalking up a room full of awards during his lengthy career in the industry.

Lil’ Dave Thompson

Lil' Dave ThompsonPhoto courtesy Electro-Fi Records
It is with great sadness that we must report the death of bluesman Lil’ Dave Thompson. The noted blues guitarist was killed in an auto accident outside of Augusta, Georgia at 7:00 AM on Sunday morning, February 14, 2010. Thompson and his band were returning home to Greenville, Mississippi from Charleston, South Carolina where they had performed Saturday night, the last gig on a lengthy and successful tour. None of Thompson’s band members were seriously hurt in the accident.

Little Smokey Smothers

Little Smokey SmothersPhoto by Mark Pokempner, courtesy Alligator Records

Chicago bluesman Albert “Little Smokey” Smothers passed away from natural causes on Saturday, November 20, 2010 after a lengthy illness. The talented guitarist was a well-known and much beloved fixture on the Chicago blues scene since the mid-1950s. Through the years, Smothers played alongside some of the city’s best-known artists, accompanying Howlin’ Wolf, Buddy Guy, Otis Rush, and Magic Sam, among many others, on stage and on record.

“Mean Gene” Kelton

"Mean Gene" KeltonPhoto courtesy

The Houston, Texas blues community lost one of its favorite sons on Tuesday, December 28th, 2010 when Sidney Eugene “Mean Gene” Kelton was killed in a head-on collision with a school bus. Kelton was 57 years old. A veteran blues guitarist and singer, the Mississippi-born Kelton formed his band the Die Hards in Houston in 1992. Kelton’s blues-rock hybrid sound, which incorporated elements of country, rockabilly, and Southern rock – as well as the band’s black-leather-and-sun-glasses garb – appealed to the close-knit Harley community, and the Die Hards proudly became known as a “biker band.”

Mississippi Slim (Walter Horn, Jr.)

Mississippi Slim's You Can't Lose The BluesPhoto courtesy G-Town Records

Walter Horn, Jr. – better known as bluesman “Mississippi Slim” – passed away on Wednesday, April 14, 2010 at the age of 66 years. Horn was born and grew up in Greenville, Mississippi. As an adult, he worked on a plantation as a tractor driver during the day and sang the blues in local clubs at night. By 1968, he had decided to take a shot at blues music as a career, and moved to Chicago where he became known as “Mississippi Slim.” In a city full of flamboyant, charismatic performers, Slim stood out with his brightly-colored hair, loud suits, and trademark mismatched, colorful socks.

Mr. Tater the Music Maker (Foster Wiley)

Mr. Tater, the Music MakerPhoto courtesy Roger Stolle, Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Art

The favorite son of Clarksdale, Mississippi – bluesman Mr. Tater, the Music Maker (a/k/a Foster Wiley) – passed away on Friday, September 10, 2010. Wiley had been hospitalized for over a week at the Methodist University Hospital in Memphis due to kidney and other health problems. Perhaps the last true Delta blues street performer, Mr. Tater, as he was known to his fans, was a familiar site in downtown Clarksdale, playing his guitar in front of local businesses, especially Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Art, where he found a friend and supporter in owner Roger Stolle.

Phillip Walker

Blues guitarist Phillip WalkerPhoto courtesy Alligator Records

The wires are burning up this morning about the death of blues guitarist and singer Phillip Walker. The talented bluesman died on Thursday, July 22, 2010 of heart failure at the age of 73 years. Walker’s distinctive guitar sound, honed in the barrooms and juke-joints of Texas and polished in the clubs of Los Angeles, was match only by his expressive, soulful vocals.

Robin Rogers

Blues singer Robin RogersPhoto copyright Joseph A. Rosen, courtesy Blind Pig Records

Sadly, we have to report that blues singer Robin Rogers passed away on Friday, December 17, 2010 at her Gastonia, North Carolina home at the too-young age of 55 years. Rogers had been fighting liver cancer for the past few months, even as her critically-acclaimed 2010 album Back Into The Fire was making her a star in the blues world.



December 31, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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