David "Honeyboy" Edwards, considered by many to be the last surviving member of the first class of Delta Blues musicians, has died at the age of 96. The AP reports that the Grammy-winning bluesman died in the early morning hours on Monday (Aug. 29) at his home in Chicago.
Edwards' health began to fail this past May, when he was forced to cancel a string of shows due to a weakening heart, his long-time manager Michael Frank of Earwig Music Company said.
"Honeyboy" was born in 1915 in Shaw, Miss., where he learned how to play the blues on a guitar his father bought from a sharecropper for $8. By the time he was 17, Edwards was playing professionally , and in the '40s, he began a long career in Chicago where he played with legends such as Howlin' Wolf, Little Walter and Muddy Waters.
In 1942, Edwards was recorded by the Library of Congress in Clarksdale, Miss. He had an incredible knack for oral history, which later earned him the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2008 Grammys.
"That piece of the history from that generation, people have to read about it from now on," Frank said about Edwards' lasting Delta legacy. "They won't be able to experience the way the early guys played it, except from somebody who's learned it off of a record."
"He had photographic memory of every fine detail of his entire life. All the way up until he died. He had so much history that so many other musicians didn't have and he was able to tell it."
It was revealed in Edward's 1997 book "The World Don't Owe Me Nothing: The Life And Times Of Delta Bluesman Honeyboy Edwards" that his nickname was given to him by his sister, who always told the siblings' mother "Look at Honeyboy" when David began making his first wobbly steps as a child.
"Blues ain't never going anywhere," Edwards told the AP back in 2008. "It can get slow, but it ain't going nowhere. You play a lowdown dirty shame slow and lonesome, my mama dead, my papa across the sea I ain't dead but I'm just supposed to be blues. You can take that same blues, make it uptempo, a shuffle blues, that's what rock `n' roll did with it. So blues ain't going nowhere. Ain't goin' nowhere."
Listen to Honeboy Edwards' "How Long":
Listen to "Myrtle Mae":
Thanks for the report to Spinner.com.