David "Honeyboy" Edwards, 1915–2011
(In 2010 GRAMMY-winning blues legend David "Honeyboy" Edwards was honored with The Recording Academy's Lifetime Achievement Award. The following tribute ran in the GRAMMY Awards program book that year. Edwards died today at the age of 96.)
David "Honeyboy" Edwards came into this world on June 28, 1915, in Shaw, Miss. He ultimately climbed to the top of the blues scene and now, at 94 years young, still tours regularly and globally. Honeyboy is one of the last of the original Delta bluesmen. He has no pretense, no ruse. He is what he is in the most beautiful and pure way — a bluesman who defines bluesmen.
After years of hearing about Honeyboy from producer Mike Vernon, I finally got to play with him in 1969 while the original Fleetwood Mac was recording the album Blues Jam In Chicago. Honeyboy is featured on three of tracks on that album, and recording with him is a memory I will always treasure.
Honeyboy Edwards was a major player in defining the Delta blues sound. Moving to Chicago in the mid-'50s, Honeyboy played small clubs and street corners with Floyd Jones, Johnny Temple, and Kansas City Red. In 1972 Honeyboy met Michael Frank, and the two soon became fast friends. In 1976 they hit the North Side blues scene as the Honeyboy Edwards Blues Band.
Honeyboy's musical path has led him to collaborations, concerts and recordings with almost every major blues legend, including Robert Johnson, Charley Patton, Sonny Boy Williamson, Howlin' Wolf, Lightnin' Hopkins, Little Walter, Magic Sam, Muddy Waters, and scores of other greats.
In 1996 Honeyboy was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame. In 2007 he was honored with a GRAMMY (along with other artists on the album Last Of The Great Mississippi Delta Bluesmen: Live In Dallas) in the Best Traditional Blues Album category. That same year, while touring Europe with my band, the Mick Fleetwood Blues Band, I was honored to have Honeyboy on the bill. He brought the house down and I remember standing in the wings waiting to go on while Honeyboy took his bows during a long standing ovation.
David "Honeyboy" Edwards has spent his life playing and singing the blues. He's touched millions of hearts and souls, guiding his fans through the medicine he simply calls, the blues. And tomorrow, Honeyboy will get up, grab his guitar and play another club somewhere. Through this prestigious award, and his decades of recordings, David "Honeyboy" Edwards' legacy will continue on forever.
(Mick Fleetwood won the Album Of The Year GRAMMY in 1977 with Fleetwood Mac for the album Rumours. He received his most recent GRAMMY nomination in 2009 in the Best Traditional Blues Album category for the album Blue Again.)