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Charley Patton

Charley Patton

(April [approximate] 1886/87- April 28, 1934)


The blues would have existed without Charley Patton, but his music influenced the genre so much that it is nearly impossible to imagine what the twentieth century would have sounded like without him. Born in Hinds County, Mississippi, he moved with his family as a young boy 100 miles north to Sunflower County in the Delta region where he spent the most of his life. Much has been made of Patton’s mixed racial heritage, with some speculating that he was of Native American (Cherokee or Choctaw, variously) or European ancestry. Considered in light of the legacy of slavery in the American South, this in itself would not have been remarkable; indeed most Black people in the United States can trace at least some of their lineage to non-African origins. Whatever the case may be, Patton was not considered white, was subject to the oppressive Jim Crow laws, and lived as a Black man in majority Black communities.

He began playing music in and around the plantation of Will Dockery near the town of Ruleville. An early influence was Henry Sloan, whose style of music represented a very early form of what would later become the Delta blues. While living in the area, Patton influenced a younger generation of players including Son House, Willie Brown, Honeyboy Edwards, Robert Johnson, Howling Wolf and Pops Staples. By the time he had reached 19 years of age he was living the life of an itinerant musician and playing often out of state; he was popular throughout the southeastern United States and maintained a regular engagement in Chicago for several years. He even recorded in New York City towards the end of his life. Patton enjoyed immense popularity due to his booming voice, extensive repertoire and highly versatile musicianship. He gained much renown as a captivating showman, often playing the guitar behind his back, on his knees, beating it like a drum or twirling his instrument in the air in mid-performance. At only 5’5”, he was a small man, but he nonetheless possessed a booming voice in a time before electric amplifiers and microphones. Tennessee bluesman Sleepy John Estes recalled that Patton had the loudest voice he had ever heard. He was a bonafide star of his time, capable of entertaining audiences of all races and raising the roof with his highly rhythmic guitar playing and captivating stage presence.

Though he first recorded for Paramount in 1929, his style was already fully formed by 1916 when he is reputed to have written “Pony Blues”, which became one of his most famous compositions. As a recording artist, he was for a time the highest selling bluesmen of his day, rivaling such stars as Blind Lemon Jefferson and Bessie Smith. He was also prolific. The more than 60 singles he cut between 1929 and 1934 for Vocalion and Paramount have stood the test of time as cornerstones of not only Black music but American popular music in general. In 1933 he settled down in Holly Ridge, Mississippi with his common-law wife Bertha Lee. He died from heart failure a year later. Any genealogy of blues, rock or popular music will undoubtedly be rooted in the music of Charley Patton. He is called 'the father of the Delta blues' but you might as well call him the father of twentieth century American music.



This classic unisex jersey short sleeve tee fits like a well-loved favorite. Soft cotton and quality print make users fall in love with it over and over again. These t-shirts have-ribbed knit collars to bolster shaping. The shoulders have taping for better fit over time. Dual side seams hold the garment's shape for longer.

.: 100% Airlume combed and ringspun cotton (fiber content may vary for different colors)

.: Light fabric (4.2 oz/yd² (142 g/m²))

.: Retail fit

.: Tear away label

.: Runs true to size

.: 100% Airlume combed and ringspun cotton (fiber content may vary for different colors)

.: Light fabric (4.2 oz/yd² (142 g/m²))

.: Retail fit

.: Tear away label

.: Runs true to size

$17.84 

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