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Sugar Blue

Blues musician Sugar Blue was born on December 16, 1949 in New York City to Maisey Savage and Jimmy Jones. Blue was given his first harmonica as a child and taught himself to play by listening to the music of Stevie Wonder and Bob Dylan. He attended Herron High School, but left without receiving his diploma. By the age of eighteen, Blue was performing on the streets of New York and sitting in on sessions with blues and jazz legends like Muddy Waters, Sun Ra, Roosevelt Sykes and Brownie McGhee.

In 1977, Blue played on Johnny Shines’ album Too Wet to Plow before moving to Paris, France on the advice of blues pianist Memphis Slim, where he was discovered by The Rolling Stones’ lead singer, Mick Jagger, who asked him play with the band as a session player. Over the next few years, Blue recorded the harmonica parts for three The Rolling Stones’ albums: Some Girls in 1978; Emotional Rescue in 1980; and Tattoo You in 1981. His most notable work was for the hit single “Miss You.” In 1978, Blue toured the U.S. with both The Rolling Stones and Louisiana Red, with whom he had recorded two albums. Blue’s debut solo album, Crossroads, was released in 1980. After the release of his From Chicago to Paris album in 1982, Blue relocated to Chicago, Illinois, where he played with well-known blues artists like Big Walter Horton, James Cotton and Junior Wells.

He also signed with Alligator Records, and joined Willie Dixon’s Chicago Blues All Stars in 1982. Blue recorded several albums throughout the 1980s including Absolutely Blue and High Voltage Blues. In 1985, he received the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album for his contribution to the compilation album Blues Explosion. Blue made a small appearance in the 1987 film Angel Heart and had a harmonica solo for the movie Tapeheads in the following year. Blue continued to release new albums through Alligator Records including Paris Blues in 1993 and Blue Blazes in 1994. After a short hiatus, he released the album Code Blue in 2007, and appeared in the 2008 film The Perfect Age of Rock ‘n’ Roll. He recorded new music on the 2010 album Threshold and his live project Raw Sugar, released in 2012. Blue then released the album Voyage in 2016.

Blue and his wife, Ilaria Lantieri, have one son together, James, and Blue also has a daughter named Sarah.

Sugar Blue was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 10, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.116

Sex

Male

Interview Date

6/10/2018

Last Name

Blue

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Organizations
First Name

Sugar

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

BLU02

Favorite Season

Summer

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii

Favorite Quote

Blues...Black Lives Under Egregious Suppression

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

12/16/1949

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Favorite Food

Pasta

Short Description

Blues musician Sugar Blue (? - )

Favorite Color

Black

Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr.

Blues musician Emmett “Bobby Rush” Ellis, Jr. was born on November 10, 1933 in Haynesville, Louisiana to Mattie Spivey Ellis and Emmett Ellis, Sr. He attended public school in Haynesville until he was eleven years old, at which point he halted his education to help support his family.

Ellis received his first guitar at seven years old, and was taught to sing and play music by his father. He aspired to become a blues musician after hearing the music of Muddy Waters and other artists on the radio. After leaving school at eleven years old, Ellis began working at a cotton gin to help his family financially. In 1947, Ellis moved to Sherrill, Arkansas with his family and found work as a sharecropper. He continued playing guitar during this time, and started his professional music career in 1950, when he played with Elmore James at a club in Arkansas. When he was eighteen years old, he migrated to Chicago, Illinois, and formed the band Bobby Rush and the Four Jivers, which included Pinetop Perkins, Freddie King and Little Walter. He began recording blues music at Chess Records, but was denied work after the Chess brothers learned that he could read. In 1954, he integrated the Bourbon Street nightclub and his band became a regular act there. He recruited comedian Dick Gregory to perform at Bourbon Street. Ellis met Jimmy Reed at Vee-Jay Records, and opened for Reed at a major Chicago venue in 1957. During the course of his career, Ellis befriended other popular blues musicians such as Muddy Waters and B.B. King. In 2015, he played at King’s final show, and performed a harmonica tribute when King passed away shortly afterwards.

Ellis has been widely celebrated for his role in blues music history. In 2006 he was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame. The following year he became the first blues artist to perform in China, which earned him the unofficial title as the International Dean of the Blues. In 2015, he was the recipient of two Blues Music Awards in the categories of Soul Blues Male Artist and B.B. King Entertainer of the Year. The same year, he was inducted into the Official Rhythm and Blues Music Hall of Fame. Ellis won a Blues Music Award and his first Grammy Award in 2017 for his album Porcupine Meat, and received an award for Historical Album of the Year for Chicken Heads: A 50 Year History of Bobby Rush. His green-studded suit depicted on the inside cover of Porcupine Meat was donated to the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of American History.

Emmett “Bobby Rush” Ellis, Jr. was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 12, 2017.

Accession Number

A2017.220

Sex

Male

Interview Date

12/12/2017

Last Name

Rush

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
First Name

Bobby

Birth City, State, Country

Haynesville

HM ID

RUS11

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

West Coast

Favorite Quote

Do Unto Others Like You Wish To Be Done Unto You.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Mississippi

Birth Date

11/10/1933

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Jackson

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Vegetables, Seafood

Short Description

Blues musician Emmett “Bobby Rush” Ellis, Jr. (1933 - ) formed Bobby Rush and the Four Jivers and spent over fifty years in the music industry. He was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2006 and won a Grammy Award for his album Porcupine Meat in 2017.

Employment

Cotton Gin

Bourbon Street

Chess Records

Jack Rabbits

Favorite Color

White, Green

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr.'s interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. talks about his paternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. remembers leaving school to work at a cotton gin

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. talks about his father's education and occupation

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. talks about his mother's light complexion

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. reflects upon the prevalence of racial discrimination

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. describes his experiences of discrimination at Chess Records

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. recalls his introduction to blues music

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. describes his early musical influences

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. talks about his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. remembers moving with his family to Sherrill, Arkansas

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. talks about his parents' relationship

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. talks about his maternal great-grandfather's estate, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. talks about his maternal great-grandfather's estate, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. talks about WOKJ Radio in Jackson, Mississippi

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. talks about the programming on WOKJ Radio in Jackson, Mississippi

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. recalls winning the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album in 2017

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. remembers Elmore James

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. talks about the influence of Jimmy Reed

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. remembers performing with Jimmy Reed in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. talks about his friendship with Muddy Waters

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. remembers playing with B.B. King

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. recalls learning to play the harmonica

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. plays the harmonica

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. describes the stories behind his lyrics

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. talks about music publishing rights, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. talks about music publishing rights, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. recalls his friendships with famous musicians

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. remembers playing in segregated clubs in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. remembers playing in segregated clubs in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. recalls recruiting acts to the Bourbon Street nightclub in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Emmett "Bobby Rush" Ellis, Jr. shares his advice to aspiring musicians

Fruteland Jackson

Blues musician and music instructor Fruteland Jackson was born Vincent Sherman Chandler on June 9, 1953 in Doddsville, Sunflower County, Mississippi. His maternal family tree can be documented back to 1863. Jackson is the fourth of six children born to John Chandler and Ida B. Collins. His childhood years were spent in Chicago and Mississippi. Jackson was raised in a musical family and was introduced to the guitar at the age of ten but had little interest in studying the instrument. Instead, Jackson played bugle and trombone while in high school. Jackson graduated from high school in 1970 and entered Columbia College in Chicago, Illinois, where he studied music and theater. He later studied vocal performance at Chicago’s Roosevelt University. Jackson then postponed his artistic ambitions to work as a private investigator and with the State of Illinois Department of Human Rights.

In 1980, Jackson moved back to Mississippi, settling in Biloxi. From 1981 to 1985, he owned and operated Camel Seafood Company. Hurricane Elena of 1985 had devastating effects in Mississippi and left Jackson without a business. At this time, he returned to his musical ambitions and immersed himself in study of the guitar and in blues music.

Jackson performs and preserves acoustic blues from both traditional and contemporary styles including field hollers, work songs, Delta blues and Piedmont blues. In 1996, Jackson helped to establish the “Blues In The Schools” program. Jackson’s educational blues programs have been presented at schools and universities throughout the United States. In 1996, Jackson was awarded the Illinois Arts Council Folk/Ethnic Heritage Award. In 2003, he was nominated for the W.C. Handy Award as “Acoustic Blues Album of the Year”, for his album, Blues 2.0. Jackson records for Electro-Fi Records.

Fruteland Jackson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 12, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.064

Sex

Male

Interview Date

2/13/2007

Last Name

Jackson

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Organizations
Schools

Columbia College Chicago

Roosevelt University

Muhammad University of Islam

Gregory Math & Sci Elem Academy

Hess Upper Grade Center

Manley Career Academy High School

Lindblom Math & Science Academy High School

Speakers Bureau

Yes

First Name

Fruteland

Birth City, State, Country

Doddsville

HM ID

JAC23

Favorite Season

Holiday Season

Sponsor

Sharon E. Moore

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

Gulf Coast

Favorite Quote

How Do You Know Your Love Be True Unless Your Love Be Tried.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

6/9/1953

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Seafood

Short Description

Music instructor and blues musician Fruteland Jackson (1953 - ) is an acoustic guitarist and singer who founded the "Blues in the Schools" program.

Employment

E.V. Allen and Associates

Camel Seafood Company

Self Employed

Howard Johnson's

Boeing Defense, Space & Security (f.k.a. McDonnell Douglas)

Mary Thompson Hospital for Women and Children

State of Illinois, Department of Human Rights

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Fruteland Jackson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Fruteland Jackson lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Fruteland Jackson describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Fruteland Jackson describes his mother's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Fruteland Jackson recounts stories of his mother's family in Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Fruteland Jackson talks about his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Fruteland Jackson describes his father's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Fruteland Jackson describes the events that led his parents to move to Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Fruteland Jackson talks about his siblings, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Fruteland Jackson talks about his siblings, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Fruteland Jackson talks about his maternal grandparents

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Fruteland Jackson talks about his early childhood memories, including his religious upbringing

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Fruteland Jackson talks about his elementary school education in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Fruteland Jackson describes his motivations as a student during elementary school in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Fruteland Jackson describes his childhood aspirations and his relationship with his family

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Fruteland Jackson describes his time at Lindblom Technical High School and the University of Islam in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Fruteland Jackson explains his choice to leave the Nation of Islam

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Fruteland Jackson explains the origin of his name

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Fruteland Jackson describes his work in food service and as a private investigator for E.V. Allen and Associates

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Fruteland Jackson talks about his mother's death and his time at Columbia College in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Fruteland Jackson describes his first two marriages

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Fruteland Jackson describes his life and his children with his third wife, Jennice Chandler

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Fruteland Jackson describes his growth as a guitarist and musician

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Fruteland Jackson talks about his decision to move to Mississippi

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Fruteland Jackson describes setbacks in his work career during the late 1980s

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Fruteland Jackson explains the events that led him to pursue music as a profession

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Fruteland Jackson describes his calling to blues music

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Fruteland Jackson describes Camel Seafood, the business he ran in Biloxi, Mississippi

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Fruteland Jackson describes his inspirations as a blues artist

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Fruteland Jackson describes the present and future of the blues genre

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Fruteland Jackson talks about getting involved with Blues in the Schools

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Fruteland Jackson talks about working with Blues in the Schools to help communities grieve and heal

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Fruteland Jackson describes and demonstrates the difference between Piedmont blues and Delta blues

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Fruteland Jackson describes musicians and techniques within the Piedmont blues style

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Fruteland Jackson reflects upon his life, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Fruteland Jackson gives advice for people interested in going into blues music

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Fruteland Jackson describes his ambitions for future projects

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Fruteland Jackson reflects upon his life, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Fruteland Jackson explains the importance of knowing one's history

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Fruteland Jackson reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Fruteland Jackson narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

2$1

DATitle
Fruteland Jackson describes his calling to blues music
Fruteland Jackson describes musicians and techniques within the Piedmont blues style
Transcript
Why blues?$$The blues found me. I didn't ask for the blues. It hit me like a ton of bricks. When I lived in Mississippi, I start--I listened to a lot of public radio, and I was listening to the blues programs, and somehow, someway, I just became overwhelmed by this music. It just totally took me over. And I--when people ask me today, why blues, I say, "The blues found me." I was walking down the street minding my own business, and all of a sudden, this music started speaking to me. My soul started--. And I didn't know why, you know. That's my parents' music. What am I doing? You know. I didn't pick no cotton. I didn't split no rails. I traded in my hammer for a hundred emails.$$(Laughs.)$$That's a song I wrote. And so I didn't know why. But I said I was gonna learn how to do it. And it was something happening at that point in time in history, because others around my age were doing the same thing and we didn't know each other. Just like with Stonehenge [Wiltshire, England] and the Pyramids [Giza, Egypt] were taking place, they didn't know each other, but they were building these giant monuments, okay. And so there were lots in my age group, and they're like a --(simultaneous)--$$For example?$$There are people like Corey Harris, Guy Davis; these are people who do the exact same thing. Robert Jones [Reverend Robert B. Jones], Rory Block [Aurora 'Rory' Block]. We're all in the same age group. And there's almost a forty-year difference between us and the real old guys who used to do it. I had the pleasure of touring with David 'Honeyboy' Edwards; he's ninety-one. So nobody was picking up this stuff. Everybody wanted to play bands and electric guitars and all this noise. But I had, something was asking me to learn these old styles, listen to cracked-up 78 records: Big Bill Broonzy, Robert Johnson, early Muddy Waters; and learn how to play these styles, Piedmont style, ragtime blues. And so, I started learning how to play'em. But you can't keep singing about cotton and corn and make a living. So what I would do was use my personal blues, my life. I can talk about things, like, I was there during Vietnam. I know this. I can talk about my life, and I can use those old rhythms, but I can use them to express more modern concepts.$$Was there any particular incident that happened in your life that made you gravitate to the blues quickly?$$I don't have anything to compare with. And I never had the kind of life--bad things never happened to me, you know. I never got--was seriously hurt or anything, like, really bad stuff ever happened to me. But I did have struggles, but to me I had the same amount of struggles as anybody else; not as bad as some. So I don't know. I wasn't driven there, you know, I got hit by a bus or something--$Tell me a little bit about the Piedmont blues. Is that a very popular style?$$Well, it's popular for people who are really into the blues and listen to acoustic blues. Some of the people that played Piedmont blues was the Rev. Gary Davis, there was Blind Boy Fuller. And Gary Davis was blind. And there was Josh White. It was Sonny Terry [Saunders Terrell] and Brownie McGhee. These--a lot of these are East Coast players.$$Is what you're playing authentic Piedmont?$$Yes, ma'am. And the only thing unauthentic about it is that I'm not from there, you know. And there was John Jackson, who recently passed away, and he was one of the last of the remaining of the real--what we call the real deal of Piedmont style players. It was very difficult for blind people to make a living back then. They didn't have a lot of things that they have right now. So they either were wrestlers, worked at a carnival or they became musicians and street musicians. And a lot of them had very, very unique styles with Piedmont. Even when I write my own songs, sometimes I'll use a Piedmont styling to float my lyrics on.$$Now do you have recordings?$$Yes, I do. I have six recordings in my discography. I'm on the Electro-Fi [Electro-Fi Records] label now, and I just completed my third recording with them. My current CD is entitled 'Blues 2.0.' It was nominated for best acoustic album by the Blues Foundation [Blues Heaven Foundation] for a Handy Award [W. C. Handy Awards], but I didn't win, but I had a chance to wear a tuxedo and eat finger sandwiches.$$(Laughs.)$$And I met Bonnie Raitt. So that's six in one hand, half a dozen in the other.$$Can we just get a little sample of something from your latest project?$$Here we go. All right. One of the places I play it at is on the casino. And I see gamblers come in the door all the time. And they come in wheelchairs, they have oxygen tanks, at fifty-five and (unclear); they love to gamble. So I decided to write a song from a gambler's point of view, okay. And I did it in a Piedmont ragtime style. (Playing guitar and singing 'A Gambler's View.')

Ronnie Baker Brooks

Rodney Dion Baker, who performs as Ronnie Baker Brooks, was born in Chicago on January 23, 1967, to Jeannine Baker and Lee Baker, Jr.—better known as legendary blues singer and guitarist Lonnie Brooks. Brooks has been performing since his ninth birthday, when his father allowed him to join him on stage at Pepper’s Lounge in Chicago to play “Messin’ with the Kid” and “Reconsider Baby.”

After graduating from Hales Franciscan High School in 1985, Brooks worked briefly as a mail clerk before joining his father’s band in 1986. In 1988, Brooks’ work was featured on his father’s album, Live from Chicago—Bayou Lightning Strikes. He later appeared on Lonnie Brooks’ Satisfaction Guaranteed and the Alligator Records 20th Anniversary Tour, during which he had the opportunity to perform with Koko Taylor, Elvin Bishop, and Lil’ Ed Williams. He has since worked with Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, and Keb’Mo’, among other luminaries.

In 1992, Brooks made his debut as a solo performer, substituting for an ill Lonnie Brooks at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. In 1998, Real Blues Magazine selected Brooks as the Best New Blues Artist. Since his show at Buddy Guy’s Legends on New Year’s Eve of that year, Brooks has been a solo artist, releasing the albums Golddigger and Take Me Witcha on Watchdog Records, his own Chicago-based label.

Brooks lives in Dolton, Illinois.

Accession Number

A2005.199

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/18/2005

Last Name

Brooks

Maker Category
Middle Name

Baker

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Hales Franciscan High School

Corpus Christi Elementary School

First Name

Ronnie

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

BRO32

Favorite Season

Fall

Sponsor

Lonnie Brooks

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Sydney, Australia

Favorite Quote

What Time The Plane Leave?

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

1/23/1967

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Soul Food

Short Description

Blues musician Ronnie Baker Brooks (1967 - ) is a Chicago born blues singer and son of blues legend Lonnie Brooks. Brooks has been recognized as by Real Blues Magazine as a "Best New Blues Artist," releasing solo albums,"Golddigger" and "Take Me Witcha," on Watchdog Records, his own Chicago-based record label.

Employment

Self Employed

Main Sponsor
Main Sponsor URL
Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Ronnie Baker Brooks' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Ronnie Baker Brooks lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Ronnie Baker Brooks describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Ronnie Baker Brooks describes his parents' first meeting

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Ronnie Baker Brooks describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Ronnie Baker Brooks describes his father

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Ronnie Baker Brooks recalls his father's lessons about the music business

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Ronnie Baker Brooks describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Ronnie Baker Brooks remembers his childhood in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Ronnie Baker Brooks describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Ronnie Baker Brooks remembers a boy being killed near his house

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Ronnie Baker Brooks talks about playing basketball at Hales Franciscan High School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Ronnie Baker Brooks describes returning to music

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Ronnie Baker Brooks talks about gang activity in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Ronnie Baker Brooks talks about the death of basketball player Ben Wilson

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Ronnie Baker Brooks recalls his time at Corpus Christi School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Ronnie Baker Brooks remembers accidentally breaking his dad's guitar as a child

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Ronnie Baker Brooks describes his childhood dog, Rex

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Ronnie Baker Brooks talks about playing music as a child

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Ronnie Baker Brooks describes playing basketball and the flute at Hales Franciscan High School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Ronnie Baker Brooks recalls listening to hip hop as a teenager

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Ronnie Baker Brooks describes touring with his father as a teenager

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Ronnie Baker Brooks remembers Chicago, Illinois during Mayor Harold Washington's term

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Ronnie Baker Brooks describes different styles of the blues

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Ronnie Baker Brooks describes his musical influences

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Ronnie Baker Brooks describes his style of music

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Ronnie Baker Brooks describes writing 'I'll See You Again'

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Ronnie Baker Brooks describes the blues scene in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Ronnie Baker Brooks describes his musical plans for the future

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Ronnie Baker Brooks talks about legends in the blues tradition

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Ronnie Baker Brooks describes his family's values

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Ronnie Baker Brooks describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Ronnie Baker Brooks reflects upon his life

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Ronnie Baker Brooks reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Ronnie Baker Brooks talks about his family and music

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Ronnie Baker Brooks describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$4

DAStory

7$5

DATitle
Ronnie Baker Brooks recalls his father's lessons about the music business
Ronnie Baker Brooks describes writing 'I'll See You Again'
Transcript
Did he [Brooks' father, Lee Baker, Jr.; HistoryMaker Lonnie Brooks] try to like pass on to you all how to avoid that kind of--$$A lot of it, yeah. You know, I mean just telling those kinds of stories, you know, and allowing me to see certain things that a normal side musician wouldn't see--you know, like the business part, taking care of the inside stuff, you know, like running a business, you know. And you have to be on top of everything, you know. He always told me, you know, and I remember today, that you've got to have a vehicle to get to your gig. This is when you're starting a band off, you know, you've got to have a vehicle. It's like, that's like your instrument as well. Take care of it, change the oil, fix the tires, you know, where a lot of people don't even think about that. They just jump in the car and go, "We got a gig" or whatever, you know, and the car breaks down. That's going to happen anyway. But if you try to do preventive maintenance on it, you can alleviate a lot of that, you know. Stuff like that. Or, taking care of the business. You know, sometimes you got to go out there and work just to keep the machine going. You know, you might not make no money, you know. So, you know, and I didn't really understand that until I got on my own. Because see, I look--even today, man, I look at my dad like some people look at Elvis Presley. I never thought that I could play music, because I looked at Dad like, "That's--I can't do that. That's untouchable. You know, that's--." And he instilled confidence in me and my brother, "Yes, you can do it. And this is how you're going to do it. If you want to do it, though. You've got to want to do it." And I remember times when we would be playing around the house, me, him, and [HistoryMaker] Wayne [Baker Brooks]. And Wayne would be playing on some boxes, and I would be playing bass. You know, we'd tune the guitar down where I'd play the bass parts, and Dad would play the guitar, and we'd be having fun with it. But then it got to when I started taking it seriously, I couldn't play in front of my dad. I couldn't sing, I couldn't do none of that, because I was intimidated by him, you know. And it freaked me out when--I think it all started when I went to see Dad play at the ChicagoFest here in Chicago [Illinois]. And I saw the people going (noise). And I was like "Ohhh--."$$Was that the first time you saw him perform?$$The first time. Well, I take that back. I went in the club with him before. I was nine years old, but I was young. I wasn't thinking like that, like I was when I was about--I'd say when I was about twelve or fourteen. It was a little different mentality. When I was nine, it was like a thing to do because Daddy was doing it. You know, when I got a little older and taking music a little serious, I was like, okay, I can't do that. You know, I can't do what Dad is doing like that, and especially when I saw them people going crazy over Dad like that. It was like unbelievable. But it kind of intimidated me, you know. I was like "I can't even play in front of him." I used to have to hide. He'd say, "[HistoryMaker] Ronnie [Baker Brooks], if you can't play in front of me, and I'm your dad, you won't be able to play in front of the people. I'm going to tell you if it's right or wrong, you know." You know, and he built that trust in me, where I could let it out. Now, I run to him when I've got a new song or something I wrote, "Check this out, Dad." (Laughter) So it kind of, that was the first time it hit me, when I was twelve at the Chicago Fest.$And you know, I got one song that I wrote called, 'I'll See You Again,' that came to me. It was written--it initially came to me after Albert Collins passed away. When he died, me and my dad [Lee Baker, Jr.; HistoryMaker Lonnie Brooks] flew out to [Las] Vegas [Nevada] to the funeral. And it didn't hit me--because Albert was one of--like I said earlier, one of the first guys that made me say, "This is what I want to do, this is serious." Because see, my dad put it--his standards were so high to me that I couldn't do it; I didn't believe I could do it. But all the time he was nourishing me, "Yes, you can; yes, you can; yes, you can." And then when I saw Albert Collins, and he said the same thing to confirm what my dad was saying, and I saw it, it was like "Okay, this is what I want to do." So he was one of the first blues guys outside of my dad that embraced me, you know, being that they both were on the same label here in Chicago [Illinois], Alligator [Records]. And you know, they would tour together a lot, and you know, I got to rub shoulders with them. And I got to meet Junior Wells, and Buddy [Guy], and Koko Taylor and all of these people. And they would say, "Well, son, it's going to be up to you to keep this going. You know, learn all you can, you know." And [HistoryMaker] B.B. [King] and Hooker, John Lee Hooker--so, Albert was one of the first ones to embrace me. And when he passed man, it crushed me. And I remember going to the funeral and they were putting the body down in the grave. And his manager came up to me and said, "Ronnie [HistoryMaker Ronnie Baker Brooks], you know, Albert would talk about you a lot, you know." And I was like, "Whoa," because I never heard nobody say that to me. I always thought Albert was just being nice, you know, "All right, son, you're going to do it. You got to keep these blues alive." And then to hear it from someone else to say that, I was like "Whoa," and it touched me. But I couldn't cry, I couldn't--I just felt sad. I got home and I'm playing in my room about three or four months later. I'm in the room and I just had the lights out, playing, man. And this song came to me, 'I'll See You Again.' And I mean the changes, the words were just flowing, like it wasn't me. And I just, I always kept a tape recorder on the side of my bed. I just pushed record and I recorded that song on the tape, and it was inspired from Albert. And then around that time after Albert died, Stevie Ray Vaughan died. I mean we had a lot of, a lot of heroes were just dying, you know, Fenton Robinson, Johnny Copeland, and what's his name? I can't think of it right now, I'm drawing a blank. But all of them was at one time passing away, and I just dedicated that song to all of them. And I didn't write it, man. I mean I wrote it, but it didn't--it was a higher being, it came from a higher being--

Wayne Baker Brooks

Wayne Baker, who performs as Wayne Baker Brooks, was born in Chicago on April 30, 1970, to Jeannine Baker and Lee Baker, Jr.—better known as legendary blues singer and guitarist Lonnie Brooks. Although he came from a musical family—his older brother, Ronnie Brooks, began performing with their father’s band in 1986—Brooks waited until he graduated from Percy L. Julian High School in 1988 to learn guitar. Brooks was able to learn from the best, as Junior Wells taught him to play his “Messin’ with the Kid.”

In November 1988, Brooks became his brother’s road manager, and he soon embarked upon a performance career of his own when he joined his father’s band. Performing in more than 150 shows a year with Lonnie and Ronnie Brooks, Wayne Brooks honed his style. He has since worked with other top Blues musicians including Buddy Guy, Otis Rush, Jonny Lang, and George Thorogood.

In 1998, Brooks co-authored Blues for Dummies, collaborating with his father, rocker Cub Koda, and Dan Aykroyd. The following year, he performed for Hillary Rodham Clinton at Chess Records in Chicago. In 2003, Brooks released his first album, Mystery, on his own label, Blues Island Records. That year, he also performed before a crowd of 52,000 at the 2003 Baseball Allstar Game in Chicago. In 2004, Brooks was a headliner at the Chicago Blues Festival.

Brooks lives and works in Calumet City, Illinois.

Accession Number

A2005.198

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/16/2005

Last Name

Brooks

Maker Category
Middle Name

Baker

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Percy L. Julian High School

Corpus Christi Elementary School

Mendel Catholic Preparatory High School

First Name

Wayne

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

BRO31

Favorite Season

Summer

Sponsor

Lonnie Brooks

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

New Orleans, Louisiana, Memphis, Tennessee, Atlanta, Georgia

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

4/30/1970

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Vegetables

Short Description

Blues musician Wayne Baker Brooks (1970 - ) is a guitarist and son of the legendary blues singer, Lonnie Brooks. He is the co-author of Blues for Dummies, and owner of Blue Island Records, under which he released his debut album, Mystery.

Employment

Roof Co.

Musician

Main Sponsor
Main Sponsor URL
Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Wayne Baker Brooks' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Wayne Baker Brooks lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Wayne Baker Brooks describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Wayne Baker Brooks describes his mother's career and his parents meeting

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Wayne Baker Brooks describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Wayne Baker Brooks describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Wayne Baker Brooks describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Wayne Baker Brooks describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Wayne Baker Brooks describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Walter Baker Brooks talks about his father's friends

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Wayne Baker Brooks recalls playing ball in Chicago's Washington Park

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Wayne Baker Brooks describes Corpus Christi School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Wayne Baker Brooks recalls musical interests from his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Wayne Baker Brooks recalls playing music at Corpus Christi School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Wayne Baker Brooks describes Percy L. Julian High School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Wayne Baker Brooks remembers deciding to play blues guitar

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Wayne Baker Brooks describes working with his dad, HistoryMaker Lonnie Brooks

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Wayne Baker Brooks describes his first live performance

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Wayne Baker Brooks describes what he learned from Junior Wells

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Wayne Baker Brooks talks about performing songs' lyrics correctly

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Wayne Baker Brooks talks about how lyrics evolve

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Wayne Baker Brooks explains how he writes his music

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Wayne Baker Brooks talks about the subject of his blues music

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Wayne Baker Brooks recalls writing songs from his album 'Mystery'

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Wayne Baker Brooks describes his style as a guitarist

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Wayne Baker Brooks describes blues musicians' influence on one another

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Wayne Baker Brooks talks about the future of blues music

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Wayne Baker Brooks describes the relationship between hip hop and blues

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Wayne Baker Brooks talks about blues as the root of American music

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Wayne Baker Brooks describes a musician's life

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Wayne Baker Brooks talks about his book 'Blues for Dummies'

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Wayne Baker Brooks describes writing 'Blues for Dummies'

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Wayne Baker Brooks describes his taste in music

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Wayne Baker Brooks describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Wayne Baker Brooks describes his future plans

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Wayne Baker Brooks reflects upon his life

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Wayne Baker Brooks reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Wayne Baker Brooks talks about his family

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Wayne Baker Brooks remembers playing at the MLB All Star Game

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Wayne Baker Brooks describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Wayne Baker Brooks narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

1$7

DATitle
Wayne Baker Brooks describes his first live performance
Wayne Baker Brooks talks about his book 'Blues for Dummies'
Transcript
You're a roadie with your father [Lee Baker, Jr.; HistoryMaker Lonnie Brooks]. And this is the late '80s [1980s], early '90s [1990s], and you learned how to play the guitar?$$I'm learning at the same time as well, yeah.$$Okay. So, when did the big moment come when you actually could play in public, on stage?$$Oh, wow, that was at FitzGerald's [Berwyn, Illinois]. That was in 1991, and I do believe it was the wintertime. But my dad, they used to always try to get me up on stage, man. But I was just too afraid, too shy, and too afraid that people knew that I couldn't play at the time, you know. (Laughter) But my dad was trying to encourage me. He was like, you know, I know what he was trying to do. He was trying to get me used to being on stage. But that moment, man, I'll never forget it. He called me up on 'Sweet Home Chicago.' And people, you know, at the club, they were all sitting down. And he was like, you know, "I got another son who plays. You know, let's get him on up. How about it for [HistoryMaker] Wayne [Baker Brooks]?" And everybody was clapping, and I was like, "Oh, no, I'm not going out there. It's spooky and they'll spank me." (Laughter) And he was like, "Come on, how about it, y'all make some more noise." And they were like "Yeah" screaming.$$And where were you at the time? Were you like--$$I was--Dad was on the stage. And you know, at FitzGerald's, backstage is like, you know, near it. So, you can close the door and open the door. And I was like right in the doorframe. And he was getting the people riled up. And finally I was like "All right." You know, and I went out there, man. And I mean the people literally got up out of their chairs and rushed to the stage at that moment. And I mean it got wild all of a sudden. It was just, you know, people were like just going nuts. And I'm sitting up there playing rhythm, and then he was like, "All right, solo." You know, so it was my time to solo. And I did my solo, man, and those people--man, I can see those people's hair just stand up on top of their heads. And it was just that rush--just knowing that somebody was going berserk for what you do, for what you just did--going crazy. That rush went through me, man. It was something I'm still trying to get. I'm still trying to get that rush. Even though, you know, I get the same reaction, but it's not like that first one. It's never like that first one, man. That first one, that's what sucked me into this music full-time, was that right there.$$Okay. So, how long was it before you got on stage again? I mean did the next time--$$Oh, it was (laughter), oh man, I--I'm telling you, man. They had to like stop me. They were like, "No, you can't--not today." You know, it was like every day I wanted it, man. I wanted to get out there and do the same thing. 'Sweet Home Chicago' was the first song that I ever learned, and that was the first song that I ever played in front of anybody. And that was, that was it right there, man. That was it. That was the turning point. I was like, I'm doing this full-time for the rest, until the day I die.$$$Oh, let's talk about 'Blues for Dummies' [Lonnie Brooks, Cub Koda, and Wayne Baker Brooks]. Yeah, tell us about 'Blues for Dummies,' and how did that come about?$$I think it was 1996. Yeah, it was 1996, and my dad [Lee Baker, Jr.; HistoryMaker Lonnie Brooks] headlined the Chicago Blues Fest [Chicago Blues Festival]. And we were home that weekend, so you know, we got a chance to actually experience the Chicago Blues Fest for the first time, I mean the whole festival, for, you know, the three days. I think it was yeah, three days, from Friday to Sunday. And you know, some friends of mine came in from Ohio and, you know, I did the gig roadie-ing for Dad that night. And after I was done, I was done. So I mean, what really sparked it was, you know, we went to all the clubs and, you know we got tore down, and woke up with a hangover. And I was like, oh man, I should write a book about this. But what really sparked it, they had the Muddy Waters--his home. They had his home in the middle of the street, you know, that they got from the plantation. And they brought it to Chicago [Illinois] and let people go through the house. They had like, you know, pictures. And it was, you know, a very small home. But I was looking in this place, like man, you know, everybody should know about this. This is how this man lived. This is how he was inspired to do his music. This is how he was, you know, living.

Eddy Clearwater

Born Edward Harrington on January 10, 1935, in Macon, Mississippi, Eddy "The Chief" Clearwater has become one of blues music's most enduring and original performers. As a child, Clearwater worked on the family farm and spent many hours listening to music ranging from country to gospel to the blues. While still in his teens, the family moved to Birmingham, Alabama, where Clearwater first learned to play the guitar and began backing various gospel groups in the area.

At the bidding of his uncle Houston, Clearwater traveled north to Chicago and the blossoming blues scene in September of 1950. Working by day, Clearwater spent his evenings in blues clubs, listening to such legends as Muddy Waters and Sunnyland Slim. By 1953, Clearwater was performing in clubs in Chicago, including the Happy Hope Lounge and Mel's Hideaway. In 1958, Clearwater cut his first single, and the following year he made his television debut on Bandstand Matinee. His star quickly rose, and he continued to record and perform throughout the 1960s and 1970s, fulfilling his childhood dream of being able to play guitar full-time. In the mid-1970s, Clearwater embarked on his first European tour, traveling with fellow blues men Buddy Guy, Junior Wells and Jimmy Johnson. In 1987, Clearwater was picked by the U.S. government to do a diplomatic tour of performances in Africa.

Since then, Clearwater has continued to tour, returning to Europe on several occasions, as well as performances in South America and throughout the United States. He also continues to record and self-produce albums on his record label, Clear Tone. Throughout the course of his career, Clearwater has performed with many of the legends of blues, and he continues to break new ground with his own sounds.

Clearwater passed away on June 1, 2018.

Accession Number

A2004.157

Sex

Male

Interview Date

9/2/2004

Last Name

Clearwater

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
Schools

McLeod School

A.H. Parker High School

First Name

Eddy

Birth City, State, Country

Macon

HM ID

CLE03

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii

Favorite Quote

Who Loves You, Baby?

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

1/10/1935

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Ribs, Catfish

Death Date

6/1/2018

Short Description

Blues musician Eddy Clearwater (1935 - 2018 ) began performing in Chicago in 1953, and toured around the world with many blues legends. Clearwater recorded and produced his own records on his record label, Clear Tone.

Favorite Color

Red

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Eddy Clearwater interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Eddy Clearwater lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Eddy Clearwater recalls his mother's background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Eddy Clearwater remembers his father

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Eddy Clearwater lists the family members who raised him

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Eddy Clearwater shares memories of growing up in Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Eddy Clearwater talks about Robert Johnson

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Eddy Clearwater recounts his early love of music

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Eddy Clearwater discusses the close relationship of gospel and blues music

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Eddy Clearwater recalls his elementary school

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Eddy Clearwater describes his childhood family life

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Eddy Clearwater remembers his introduction to music

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Eddy Clearwater recounts his transition from Alabama to Chicago

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Eddy Clearwater recalls his introduction to the Chicago blues scene

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Eddy Clearwater discusses the blues' roots in segregated Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Eddy Clearwater remembers his first gigs, and starting to sing

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Eddy Clearwater discusses finding his own style, writing songs, and recording albums

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Eddy Clearwater recalls 63rd Street at the height of the Chicago blues and jazz scene

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Eddy Clearwater recalls the reception of his first record

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Eddy Clearwater remembers his live performances

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Eddy Clearwater discusses the financial risks of the music industry

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Eddy Clearwater recounts becoming a successful musician

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Eddy Clearwater recalls the 1960s British music scene

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Eddy Clearwater laments the lack of interest in the blues in the black community

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Eddy Clearwater discusses efforts to preserve the blues

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Eddy Clearwater shares his favorite songs

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Eddy Clearwater expresses his hopes for the future of the blues and the black community

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Eddy Clearwater discusses the connections between American blues and African music

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Eddy Clearwater reflects on his life and career

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Eddy Clearwater recalls opening his own blues club

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Eddy Clearwater considers his legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Eddy Clearwater talks about B.B. King

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Eddy Clearwater reflects on his life and career

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Eddy Clearwater shares a story about B.B. King

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Eddy Clearwater dicusses mentoring young musicians

Lonnie Brooks

Lee Baker, Jr., also known as legendary blues singer and guitarist Lonnie Brooks, was born in Dubuisson, Louisiana on December 18, 1933 to Lillian Baker, a housewife, and Baker, Sr., a cotton field laborer. His grandfather, “Joe the Banjo,” was a circus strongman, musician and craftsman, and Brooks’ interest in music was fostered early on from him. Brooks left school after completing the eighth grade, and went to live with his father. In 1950, Brooks left Dubuisson for southern Louisiana, got married and relocated to Port Arthur, Texas.

While in Port Arthur, Brooks was approached by one of his musical heroes, Clifton Chenier, about performing with him. Brooks played everything from Zydeco and rock and roll to jazz and country, performing under the name of “Guitar Junior.” In 1959, Brooks joined up with Sam Cooke on a caravan tour of the south, and then hitched a ride to Chicago where he moved in with Cooke’s mother and brother. By the early 1960s, Brooks dropped the “Guitar Junior” name in favor of his current moniker, performed with Jimmy Reed and incorporated the sounds of Chicago in his performance. During the 1960s and 1970s, Brooks worked in a number of tough Chicago clubs, playing cover songs for underworld gangsters.

Brooks’ big break came in 1978 when he recorded four songs on Alligator Records’ Living Chicago Blues anthology. The following year, Brooks released the album Bayou Lightning, which garnered him a Grand Prix Award, causing him to explode onto the blues scene. His distinctive sound, forged from a combination of Chicago blues, R & B, country and Cajun boogie, came to be known as the “voodoo blues.” Brooks developed a loyal following when he released his Grammy nominated Bayou Lightning Strikes: Live from Chicago, and since then, there have been several successful albums.

Brooks performed at the San Francisco Blues Fest and the Montreux Jazz Festival. With television appearances on Hee-Haw and Late Night with David Letterman, Brooks teamed up with Dan Aykroyd and John Goodman in the Blues Brothers 2000. He also co-authored Blues for Dummies and headlined the 1996 Chicago Blues Fest. Brooks was also often found performing with his two guitar-playing sons, Ronnie and Wayne.

Brooks and his wife, Jeannine, lived in Chicago.

Brooks passed away on April 1, 2017.

Accession Number

A2003.287

Sex

Male

Interview Date

12/4/2003

Last Name

Brooks

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Garland Elementary School

First Name

Lonnie

Birth City, State, Country

Dubuisson

HM ID

BRO16

Favorite Season

September, October

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

I love you.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

12/18/1933

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fish, Gumbo, Beans (Red), Rice, Sausage (Smoked)

Death Date

4/1/2017

Short Description

Blues musician Lonnie Brooks (1933 - 2017 ) was most known for his album, Bayou Lightning, performed at the Montreaux Jazz Festival, made numerous television appearances, co-starred in the Blues Brothers 2000, and co-wrote Blues for Dummies.

Favorite Color

Black, Blue, Brown

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Lonnie Brooks interview: Lonnie Brooks explains his name

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Slating of Lonnie Brooks interview, continued

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Lonnie Brooks's favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Lonnie Brooks remembers his maternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Lonnie Brooks describes his father's background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Lonnie Brooks remembers his parents

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Lonnie Brooks discusses Louisiana's Creole culture

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Lonnie Brooks continues to discuss race issues in Louisiana during his youth

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Lonnie Brooks describes his childhood environs, Dubuisson, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Lonnie Brooks recalls his childhood activities

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Lonnie Brooks describes being the eldest of twelve children

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Lonnie Brooks recalls his school days

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Lonnie Brooks discusses his early interest in musc

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Lonnie Brooks gives an overview of his early manual labor jobs

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Lonnie Brooks recalls his early music career through Clifton Chenier

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Lonnie Brooks describes the beginning of his career as a lyricist

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Lonnie Brooks remembers his first recording

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Lonnie Brooks reflects on his place in country music

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Lonnie Brooks discusses his musical network in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Lonnie Brooks describes a memorable performance in Europe

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Lonnie Brooks explains his appearance on television's 'Hee Haw'

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Lonnie Brooks remembers singer Sam Cooke and his brother L.C. Cooke

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Lonnie Brooks reflects on his encounters with racism

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Lonnie Brooks discusses Chicago's blues venues

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Lonnie Brooks shares reflections on the recording industry

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Lonnie Brooks describes the Louisiana lore that influenced his music

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Lonnie Brooks reflects on the success of his album 'Bayou Lightning'

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Lonnie Brooks names his favorite musicians

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Lonnie Brooks shares final reflections

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Lonnie Brooks recalls sharing his wealth with his parents

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Lonnie Brooks reflects on his life's course

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Lonnie Brooks expresses his hopes for his musical sons