Clarksdale in Coahoma County, Mississippi — The American South (East South Central)
Big Jack Johnson
The Clarksdale area is famed for its many legendary blues artists who achieved their greatest success after moving away, such as Muddy Waters, Ike Turner, and John Lee Hooker. But there were world-renowned musicians who remained lifelong local residents, and foremost among these was Big Jack Johnson (1940-2011), one of the most creative guitarists and lyricists in the blues. When not on tour Johnson considered Red's Blues Club at this site his home base.
Big Jack Johnson, who was once heralded by noted music critic Robert Palmer as “possibly the most original bluesman alive,” took Delta blues in new directions with his electric, innovative instrumental forays and topical songs about AIDS, war, domestic violence, abortion, Hurricane Katrina, and the 1994 ice storm that paralyzed Clarksdale. His CD "Memphis Barbecue Sessions" won a W. C. Handy Award in 2003, and he earned several Living Blues Awards. Though modest about his guitar prowess and other achievements, Johnson liked to boast of his abilities as a bass player and fisherman. July 30, 1940, was the birthdate he officially used, but the actual date was 1939, as the census from April 6, 1940, shows him as the eight-month-old son of Ellis and Pearl Johnson on Van Savage's Plantation near Lambert. Ellis Johnson,
For Johnsonís own band, B. J. & the Oilers, he recruited younger local musicians, including his protege Terry “Big T” Williams, but more often used Pennsylvania-based musicians and others when he toured the East Coast and across the country. His travels also took him to Europe, Canada, Australia and Japan. He appeared in the 1992 film "Deep Blues" and the locally produced 1991 video "Juke Joint Saturday Night" and recorded for the
Johnson also went into the nightclub business with his wife Angenette at times, operating the Untouchables, Black Fox, and Possum Trot nightspots. In his final years he performed regularly here at Red's for his longtime friend Cornelius “Red” Paden. After Johnson died on March 14, 2011, a huge throng of friends, relatives and admirers filled the Pinnacle at Coahoma Community College for his funeral. He was buried at McLaurin Memorial Garden cemetery on Highway 61.
Erected 2014 by the Mississippi Blues Commission. (Marker Number 180.)
Marker series. This marker is included in the Mississippi Blues Trail marker series.
Location. 34° 11.863′ N, 90° 34.447′ W. Marker is in Clarksdale, Mississippi, in Coahoma County. Marker is at the intersection of Sunflower Avenue and Martin Luther King Boulevard, on the left when traveling north on Sunflower Avenue. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 398 Sunflower Avenue, Clarksdale MS 38614, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. First Baptist M.B. Church (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); The New World (about 600 feet away); Aaron Henry (approx. 0.2 miles away); Dr. Aaron Henry (approx. 0.2 miles away); Delta Blues Museum (approx. 0.2 miles away); Sunflower River Blues & Gospel Festival (approx. 0.2 miles away); Sam Cooke (approx. 0.2 miles away); Riverside Hotel (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Clarksdale.
Also see . . .
1. Mississippi Blues Project: A Visit to Red's Lounge (video). (Submitted on October 29, 2015, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
2. Wikipedia article on Big Jack Johnson. (Submitted on October 29, 2015, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
Categories. • African Americans • Arts, Letters, Music • Entertainment •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on October 29, 2015, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 162 times since then and 21 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on October 29, 2015, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.