Starkville in Oktibbeha County, Mississippi — The American South (East South Central)
Oktibbeha County Blues
Oktibbeha County has produced several blues artists who achieved fame for their recordings and live performances in Chicago, California, or other areas. Blues Hall of Famer Big Joe Williams (c. 1903-1982), who waxed the classic "Baby Please Don't Go," was born close to Noxubee Swamp on the southern edge of the county. Tony Hollins (1910-c. 1959), who hailed from the Starkville-Osborn area, and Sturgis native Lou Thomas Watts (1934-1970), aka Kid Thomas, left small but significant bodies of recorded work.
Oktibbeha County blues performers have been featured at local clubs, restaurants, juke joints, festivals, and Mississippi State University events, and the music of locally born blues recording artists has reached audiences around the world. Big Joe Williams, one of the most prolific and well-traveled figures in blues history, maintained close ties to Oktibbeha County throughout his life. A longtime resident of the Crawford area, Williams recorded hundreds of tracks between 1935 and 1980. He also acted as a session producer and talent scout, resulting in recordings made at a Starkville radio station by Shortstuff Macon, Glover Lee Connor, Williams, and his uncles, Bert and Russ Logan, in 1965 and 1971. In 1941 Williams and guitarist Tony Hollins, whose family lived in Osborn
Lou Thomas Watts, who recorded under the name Kid Thomas, among others, left Sturgis at an early age when his family moved to Chicago. Watts said he taught drums to schoolmate Willie "Big Eyes" Smith, who later gained fame as a member of the Muddy Waters band, and in turn Smith taught Watts harmonica. Watts made records that ranged from frantic Little Richard-style rock 'n' roll to deep Chicago harmonica blues. After moving to Wichita and then to Los Angeles, he was just gaining the attention of the international blues community when he was shot to death by a distraught father whose son had been struck and killed by Watts in an auto accident.
In Starkville, singer Willie Harrington and bassist Raymond Doss founded the Flames, a popular soul, funk, and blues band, in 1972. The group broke up in 1978 but was revived in 1997. Over the years the Flames performed at local venues including the Underground, Rick's Cafe Americain, the Dark Horse Tavern, and the Veranda. Emmett "Piano Red" Hudson (1909-1993) from Clay
Erected 2011 by the Mississippi Blues Commission. (Marker Number 146.)
Marker series. This marker is included in the Mississippi Blues Trail marker series.
Location. 33° 27.587′ N, 88° 48.435′ W. Marker is in Starkville, Mississippi, in Oktibbeha County. Marker is at the intersection of Fellowship Street and Russell Street, on the right when traveling south on Fellowship Street. Touch for map
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within one mile of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Nash Street Historic District (approx. ¼ mile away); The Borden Milk Plant (approx. ¼ mile away); First Presbyterian Church (approx. 0.4 miles away); Starkville (approx. half a mile away); Hic A Sha Ba Ha Spring (approx. 0.7 miles away); Greensboro Street Historic District (approx. 0.8 miles away); Grierson's Raid (approx. 0.9 miles away); W.H. "Corn Club" Smith (approx. one mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Starkville.
Categories. • African Americans • Arts, Letters, Music • Entertainment •
Credits. This page was last revised on April 17, 2017. This page originally submitted on April 17, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 72 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on April 17, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.