Robert Nighthawk (1909-1967) was one of the foremost blues guitarists of his era. Although he rarely stayed long in one town, he called Friars Point home at various times from the 1920s to the 1960s. In a 1940 recording, he sang of “going back to Friars Point, down in sweet old Dixie Land.” During Nighthawk’s time, blues musicians (including the legendary Robert Johnson) played at local juke joints and house parties and in front of stores, such as Hirsberg’s at this site.
Robert Nighthawk was one of the Delta’s most famous blues artists during the 1940s and ‘50s, known for his radio broadcasts on KFFA in Helena, Arkansas, and WROX in Clarksdale, as well as for his recordings and his wide-ranging travels. Nighthawk, it seemed, was always in the process of changing his address, his marital status, or his name. Born Robert Lee McCollum on November 30, 1909, in Phillips County, Arkansas, he played harmonica before he learned guitar from Houston Stackhouse on a farm in Murphy Bayou, Mississippi, in 1931. On his first records, including “Prowling Night-Hawk” in 1937, he was billed
Nighthawk was famed for his cool, composed vocal style and his influential slide guitar sound, which he achieved by sliding a piece of brass pipe along the guitar frets. His best known records included “Annie Lee Blues,” “Black Angel Blues,” “The Moon is Rising,” and “Crying Won’t Help You.” B.B. King once named Nighthawk as one of his ten favorite guitarists. Nighthawk’s renown has spread internationally since his death in Helena on November 5, 1967. He was elected to the Blues Hall of Fame in 1983, and a powerful album released in 1980, Robert Nighthawk: Live on Maxwell Street 1964, was named one of the ten best rock ‘n’ roll albums of the year by critic Greil Marcus.
Among Nighthawk’s several marriages, at least one was in Friars Point, where he worked on John McKee’s plantation. While most local blues activity was in plantation juke joints or in the New Town area on the southern end of Friars Point, sometimes merchants hired musicians to play inside or in front of their downtown stores to attract potential customers; at other times, performers would just set up outside and play for tips. But, according to drugstore
Erected 2007 by Mississippi Blues Commission. (Marker Number 27.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Arts, Letters, Music • Entertainment. In addition, it is included in the Mississippi Blues Trail 🎶 series list.
Location. 34° 22.257′ N, 90° 38.355′ W. Marker is in Friars Point, Mississippi, in Coahoma County. Marker is on 2nd Street north of Webb Street, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 2nd St, Friars Point MS 38631, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 11 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. New Prospect M.B. Church (approx. 0.4 miles away); Muddy Waters's House (approx. 7˝ miles away); Salomon Mounds (approx. 8.6 miles away); Helena, Arkansas (approx. 9.4 miles away in Arkansas); The Union Army Marches Into Helena (approx. 9.7 miles away in Arkansas); Hernando De Soto Commemorative Bridge (approx. 9.7 miles away); Seizing Freedom (approx. 10.1 miles away in Arkansas); Helena's Contraband Camps (approx. 10.1 miles away in Arkansas).
Also see . . . Wikipedia article on Robert Nighthawk. (Submitted on November 19, 2020, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
Credits. This page was last revised on November 19, 2020. It was originally submitted on November 19, 2020, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 51 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on November 19, 2020, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.
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