Roosevelt Sykes, The Honeydripper, was born in Arkansas in 1906. He began playing serious piano at age 15, ending up in St.Louis where he played with Jimmy Oden. He spent the time prior to St Louis playing up and down the Mississippi , playing anywhere that would let him. In 1929, he was discovered by Okeh records, which sent him to New York City to record. It was here he recorded his most significant song “44 Blues”. This is a version done by Philip Lafontaine, Perfect in every way possible.
His career moved quickly from this point. He began recording for multiple labels under different names ( ‘Easy Papa Johnson’, ‘Dobby Bragg’ and ‘Willie Kelly’) . In 1934, he and Jimmy Oden moved to Chicago, He continued with various labels, eventually recording with the Honeydrippers. The song below is his classic “Night Time is the Right Time”
Night Time is the Right Time
This tune has been covered by many artists, like Ray Charles, The Sonics and the Rolling Stones. This version though, is my favourite, done by CCR.
His legacy is considerable. Aside from the songs noted above, he is also responsible for other classics. Here is one by the late great Etta James.
Driving Wheel Etta James
As a last note, here are two more by the man himself. The first is unusual in the he is playing guitar, when he is known as piano guy. The second is Roosevelt at home on his piano
Tall Heavy Mama
He recorded well into the 1960’s after moving to New Orléans in the 50’s. He died in 1983.
- Let’s Explore The Blues – Blind Willie Johnson (joebeans2002.wordpress.com)
- Let’s Explore The Blues – Mississippi John Hurt (joebeans2002.wordpress.com)
9 thoughts on “Let’s Explore The Blues – Roosevelt Sykes”
Timeless, classic jump blues.
He made the world a better place.
I enjoyed his stuff. Great piano player, definitely in the swing mode. I got a kick out of the lyrics moreso. Very innuendo filled.
That’s the thing with the Blues. You’ve either got it or you ain’t. There ain’t no fakin’.
Mr Sykes has got it.
So true. Not much room for trickery. Lay down the song and go with the flow. My favourite part of the genre is their ability to go on the fly. No song sounds the same twice and the covers are so different, yet the same.
Such a talented blues musician. “Guitar Blues” is awesome – Did not hear of it prior to today. Thanks John
Honestly, I never had either. It is a great tune.