David 'Honeyboy' Edwards dies aged 96

Honeyboy in concert at Radio City Music Hall, NYC, back in 2003
Honeyboy in concert at Radio City Music Hall, NYC, back in 2003 (Image credit: Reuters/CORBIS)

David 'Honeyboy' Edwards has passed away aged 96. Edwards was widely regarded as the last direct link to the pre-war Delta blues generation. He retired due to health issues in July 2011 after a career spanning more than 80 years.

A Grammy Award winner for Traditional Blues in 2008 and Lifetime Achievement in 2010, Edwards was born in Shaw, Mississippi in 1915 and left home aged just 14 to become an itinerant musician alongside Big Joe Williams.

A legendary storyteller who claimed to have a photographic memory, Edwards was a friend and contemporary of Robert Johnson, and was present on the night in 1938 when Johnson drank the poisoned whiskey that would make him the founding member of the ill-fated 27 Club.

Somewhat fittingly after decades on the road, Edwards's final public performances took place in Clarksdale, Mississippi on 16-17 April this year. He died peacefully at his Chicago home in the early hours of 29 August, suffering congestive heart failure.

Generations of rhythm and blues, rock 'n' roll, rock and pop musicians owe their whole existence to Honeyboy Edwards and his trailblazing Delta blues contemporaries.

Check out Who May Your Regular Be, recorded by Edwards for Arc Records as Mr Honey in 1951:

"Blues ain't never going anywhere," Edwards told the Associated Press in 2008.

"It can get slow, but it ain't going nowhere. You play a lowdown dirty shame slow and lonesome, my mama dead, my papa across the sea I ain't dead but I'm just supposed to be blues.

"You can take that same blues, make it uptempo, a shuffle blues, that's what rock 'n roll did with it. So blues ain't going nowhere."

Chris Vinnicombe worked with us here on the MusicRadar team from the site's initial launch way back in 2007, and also contributed to Guitarist magazine as Features Editor until 2014, as well as Total Guitar magazine, amongst others. These days he can be found at Gibson Guitars, where he is editor-in-chief.