“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Forest in Scott County, Mississippi — The American South (East South Central)

Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup

Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup Marker (Front) image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Mark Hilton, September 14, 2014
1. Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup Marker (Front)
Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup, one of the most prominent blues recording artists of the 1940s, was born on his grandparents' land in Forest on August 24, 1905. After Elvis Presley recorded three Crudup songs in the 1950s, Crudup became known as “The Father of Rock 'n' Roll.” Despite the commercial success of his songs, Crudup was never fairly paid for the music he composed and recorded, and had to work as a laborer or bus driver to support his family. He died on March 28, 1974.

Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup was one of America's top-selling blues artists long before Elvis Presley, Elton John, Rod Stewart, and other pop stars began recording his songs. But like many other performers who had little education and little familiarity with the music business or copyright law, Crudup fell victim to exploitation. Only after his death did his heirs finally succeed in securing his copyrights and long-overdue royalties.

Crudup, who grew up singing spirituals, did not start playing guitar until he was in his thirties. In 1941, while playing on the streets in
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Chicago, he was offered a chance to record for RCA Victor's Bluebird label. His unique sound and memorable lyrics caught on with record buyers, and he continued to record for RCA until 1954. His best known records included “Rock Me Mama,” “Mean Old 'Frisco Blues,” and three that were covered by Presley: “That's All Right,” “My Baby Left Me,” and “So Glad You're Mine.” Crudup rarely played concerts or theaters until the blues revival of the 1960s, but he was a juke joint favorite in Mississippi, where he performed with Elmore James, Sonny Boy Williamson, and locals such as George Lee, Odell Lay, and Clyde Lay. In Forest he played dance halls and cafes where both blacks and whites attended despite segregation policies of the time. He stacked lumber, picked cotton, and sold bootleg liquor, and finally started his own business transporting migrant workers between Florida and Virginia after he left Forest in the mid-1950s. He recorded in later years for the Fire and Delmark labels, but remained a working man who never depended on music to survive. His sons James, Jonas, and George formed their own band in Florida and later recorded a CD as the Crudup Brothers. A nephew, Robert Earl “Little Jr.” Crudup, also launched a performing career in Oakland, California, in the 1980s.

James “T-Model”
Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup Marker (Rear) image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Mark Hilton, September 14, 2014
2. Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup Marker (Rear)
Ford, another self-taught Forest musician, also took up guitar late in life (in his fifties). Ford, born June 20, 1924, was a laborer, logger, and truck driver before he became a bluesman in the Delta. In the 1990s his CDs on the Oxford-based Fat Possum label enabled him to start touring the country while maintaining a performing base at nightspots near his home in Greenville.

Another former Forest resident, Ruben Hughes, was honored with a resolution from the Mississippi Legislature in 2002 for his work in radio. Hughes, born Sept. 9, 1938, got his first job as a blues deejay on WMAG in Forest at the age of sixteen. He broadcast on several stations before he founded WGNL in Greenwood in 1987. Hughes recalled working with Arthur Crudup on a Forest poultry farm in the early 1950s.
Erected 2008 by the Mississippi Blues Commission. (Marker Number 52.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African AmericansArts, Letters, MusicEntertainment. In addition, it is included in the Mississippi Blues Trail series list. A significant historical month for this entry is March 1780.
Location. 32° 21.861′ N, 89° 28.718′ W. Marker is in Forest, Mississippi, in Scott County. Marker is at the intersection of West 3rd Street (Highway 80) and Antley
Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup Marker Photos image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Mark Hilton, September 14, 2014
3. Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup Marker Photos
Street, on the right when traveling east on West 3rd Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 511 West 3rd Street, Forest MS 39074, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 4 other markers are within 12 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. James Oliver Eastland (approx. 1.2 miles away); Hillsboro Methodist Church (approx. 6½ miles away); Lake Railroad Depot (approx. 8.9 miles away); The Ueltschey Tannery (approx. 11.3 miles away).
Also see . . .  Mississippi Blues Trail. (Submitted on September 16, 2014.)
Marker Area image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Mark Hilton, September 14, 2014
4. Marker Area
Mississippi Blues Trail Sign image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Mark Hilton, September 14, 2014
5. Mississippi Blues Trail Sign
Credits. This page was last revised on October 5, 2020. It was originally submitted on September 15, 2014, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 660 times since then and 114 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on September 15, 2014, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.

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Dec. 1, 2023