Arthur “big Boy” Crudup

An influential, but often overlooked, Delta blues guitarist, singer, and songwriter. Arthur Crudup was Elvis Presley’s favourite bluesman. During his seminal rockabilly heyday, the swivel-hipped rock star recorded three “Big Boy” Victor classics: “That’s All Right Mama”, “So Glad You’re Mine,” and “My Baby Left Me.” Crudup’s contributions to the blues vocabulary are often overlooked in the commotion surrounding Presley’s iconic covers. Crudup didn’t sound like anyone else and that made him an innovator. He was a very basic guitarist, but he only started to play the guitar at age 30. Crudup immigrated from Mississippi to Chicago around 1940. Crudup was living rough at first. He was selling spare change and living in a packed crate under an elevated train track. When powerful RCA/Bluebird producer Lester Melrose offered to pay Crudup a few dollars, Crudup accepted. Melrose hired Crudup for a party at Tampa Red’s house that 1941 night. It was attended by Big Bill Broonzy and Lonnie Johnson as well as Lil Green. Crudup was able to overcome his nerves and impress a difficult crowd. He was an RCA artist by September 1941. Crudup reached the R’s upper reaches.

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