Born in Houston, Texas in 1906, Victoria Spivey’s favourite sources of lyrical inspiration were disease and shagging… and not necessarily in that order. What did you think Organ Grinder Blues and her 1926 hit Black Snake Blues were all about?
Like Alberta Hunter, Spivey retired from performing and recording in the 50s. In Victoria’s case it wasn’t the call of nursing but playing organ in church that temporarily halted her career. She re-emerged in the early 60s. Her cheeky 1963 live performance of TB Blues (listen below) proved that she’d lost none of her presence.
Incidentally, her 1962 albums recorded with Big Joe Williams (Three Kings And The Queen/Three Kings And The Queen Volume Two) featured some bloke called Bob Dylan on harmonica and backing vocals…
Listen: Victoria Spivey with the Clarence Williams Blue Five - Organ Grinder Blues (1929)
Listen: Victoria Spivey - Black Snake Blues/No More Jelly Beans (1926)
Listen: Victoria Spivey with Willie Dixon - TB Blues (live, 1963)