Roosevelt Sykes

If someone says that blues are too depressing to embrace then sit down and give them a dose of Roosevelt Sykes. If they don’t change their mind, nothing will. This roly-poly and effervescent pianist (nicknamed Honeydripper for his youthful prowess in the girls’ world) had absolutely nothing negative about him. His long career spans the prewar and postwar eras without any interruption. Sykes’ irreverent lyrics and romping boogies (his double-entendre gems “Dirty Mother for You,” “Ice Cream Freezer,” or “Peeping Tom”) are a testament to his immense contributions to blues music. He was a pioneering piano pounder responsible for the seminal pieces “44 Blues,” “Driving Wheel,” and [roviLink=”MC”]”Night Time Is the Right Time.” Sykes started playing piano while growing up in Helena. He began his journey on the road at the age of 15 and developed his rowdy barrelhouse style in the blues-fertile St. Louis region. Sykes started recording in 1929 for OKeh. He was then signed to four labels under four different names the following year (he was also known as Dobby Bragg and Willie Kelly and Easy Papa Johnson). Sykes was a Decca Records employee in 1935. His popularity exploded. Sykes moved to Chicago in 1935 and signed a pact in 1943 with Bluebird. He recorded prolifically for Bluebird with his combo, The Honeydrippers.

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