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Barbecue Bob

Barbecue Bob was the name given by Columbia Records talent scout Dan Hornsby to Atlanta blues singer Robert Hicks. Hicks is widely credited as being the singer who more than any helped to popularize Atlanta blues in its formative period. Born to a family of sharecroppers in Walnut Grove, GA, Robert Hicks and his brother, Charley "Lincoln" Hicks relocated with them to Newton County. There the Hicks brothers came in contact with Savannah "Dip" Weaver and her son, Curley Weaver. With the Weavers, the Hicks boys learned to play guitar and sing. Another local kid, Eddie Mapp, arrived in the area around 1922 and began to play harmonica with Robert and Charley Hicks and Curley Weaver. For several years in the early to mid-'20s, this group, or some group derived from this nucleus of musicians, would play parties and dances all around Atlanta and the surrounding territory.

Robert Hicks was the first of this group to "break out"; by 1926, Hicks was working at Tidwell's Barbecue Place in the affluent Atlanta suburb of Buckhead. Hicks would cook for, serve, and sing for the patrons. Robert Hicks proved a local sensation, and somehow attracted the notice of Columbia's Dan Hornsby. Hornsby made publicity photographs of Hicks in chef's whites and devised the moniker Barbecue Bob to put on Hicks' first Columbia record, "Barbecue Blues," recorded in Atlanta on March 25, 1927. It proved a strong seller, and Hicks traveled to New York to make its follow-up, "Mississippi Heavy Water Blues," in addition to seven other titles on June 15 and 16. Lightning struck twice, and Columbia realized they had a hit artist in Barbecue Bob. Over the next three years the Columbia remote truck stopped in Atlanta on numerous occasions primarily to make records with Hicks, and altogether he made 62 sides for Columbia. Only six of these were rejected, one title being remade and three others having since been found and issued.

Robert Hicks was joined by his brother Charley on four of these sides; one pair recorded on November 9, 1927 ("It Won't Be Long Now, Pts. 1-2") was issued as by Barbecue Bob and Laughing Charley. This highly influential coupling is regarded as a classic and is one of the most frequently anthologized blues recordings from the 1920s. Robert Hicks also participated in a pseudonymous session for QRS in December, 1930 issued as by the Georgia Cotton Pickers. This session also resulting in records being issued involving Hicks' longtime friends Curley Weaver, Eddie Mapp, and possibly a younger friend, Buddy Moss. Hicks had already completed his last session as Barbecue Bob for Columbia on the fifth of that month. Earlier that year his wife had died of pneumonia, and less than a year later Hicks himself succumbed to the same illness, brought on by a bout with influenza. He was only 29.

Robert Hicks played a 12-string Stella guitar on his recordings, but in person he was just as likely to play a six-string. He also made some use of bottleneck techniques. Hicks was a consummate stylist of older material, and contributed textbook versions of such blues standards as "Poor Boy a Long Ways from Home," "Fo' Day Creep," and "Goin' Up the Country." Eric Clapton has adopted Hicks' version of "Motherless Chile Blues." Hicks' influence extends to the whole of early Atlanta blues, and he is considered second, if not equal, to Blind Willie McTell in this respect. ~ Uncle Dave Lewis
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Rough Guide To Barbecue Bob

2. Barbecue Blues

3. Honey Your Going Too Fast

4. Motherless Chile Blues

5. She Looks So Good

6. Thinkin' Funny Blues

7. Honey You Don't Know My Mind

8. Going Up The Country

9. Atlanta Moan

10. It Just Won't Hay

11. Chocolate To The Bone

12. When The Saints Go Marching In

13. She's Coming Back Some Cold Rainy Day

14. Spider And The Fly

15. It Just Won't Quit

16. Yo Yo Blues

17. Brown-Skin Gal

18. Jesus' Blood Can Make Me Whole

19. She Moves It Just Right

20. Midnight Weeping Blues (Neillie Florence Vocals)

21. It Won't Be Long Now - Part 1

22. It's Just Too Bad

23. Doin' The Scraunch

24. How Long Pretty Mama

x

Track List: Chef's Blues

1. Barbecue Blues

2. Mississippi Heavy Water Blues

3. Motherless Chile Blues

4. Cloudy Sky Blues

5. Poor Boy a Long Ways from Home

6. Jesus' Blood Can Make Me Whole

7. Mamma You Don't Suit Me!

8. Chocolate to the Bone

9. Crooked Woman Blues

10. It Won't Be Long Now, Pt. 1

11. My Mistake Blues

12. Blind Pig Blues

13. Ease It to Me Blues

14. Hurry and Bring It Back Home

15. Waycross Georgia Blues

16. Thinkin' Funny Blues

17. Easy Rider Don't You Deny My Name

18. Going up the Country

19. Cold Wave Blues

20. How Long Pretty Mama

21. When the Saints Go Marching In

22. Beggin' for Love

23. It Won't Be Long Now, Pt. 2

25. Honey You Don't Know My Mind

27. Brown-Skin Girl

28. Mississippi Low-Levee Blues

29. She's Gone Blues

30. Fo Day Creep

x

Track List: Barbecue Bob - Greatest Hits

1. Atlanta Moan

2. Barbecue Blues

3. Beggin' For Love

4. Black Skunk Blues

5. Blind Pig Blues

6. Brown-Skin Girl

7. Chocolate To The Bone

8. Cloudy Sky Blues

9. Easy Rider Don't You Deny My Name

10. Going Up The Country

11. I'm On My Way Down Home

12. It's Just Too Bad

13. Me And My Whiskey

14. Meat Man Pete

15. Midnight Weeping Blues

16. Mississippi Low-Levee Blues

17. Monkey And The Baboon

18. Motherless Chile Blues

19. New Mojo Blues

20. Poor Boy A Long Ways From Home

21. Red Hot Mama Papa's Going To Cool You Off

22. She Moves It Just Right

23. She's Coming Back Some Cold Rainy Day

24. Spider And The Fly

25. Waycross Georgia Blues

26. We Sure Got Hard Times

28. When The Saints Go Marching In

29. Yo Yo Blues

30. Yo Yo Blues No. 2

x

Track List: Chocolate To The Bone

1. Motherless Chile Blues

2. Spider And The Fly

3. Yo Yo Blues

4. Mississippi Heavy Water Blues

5. California Blues

6. She's Coming Back Some Cold Rainy Day

7. Barbecue Blues

8. When The Saints Go Marching In

9. Ease It To Me Blues

10. Poor Boy A Long Ways From Home

11. Diddle-Da-Diddle

12. Going Up The Country

13. Atlanta Moan

14. Good Time Rounder

15. It's Just Too Bad

16. Twistin' Your Stuff

17. Chocolate To The Bone

18. Black Skunk Blues

19. Jacksonville Blues

20. She Shook Her Gin

x

Track List: Barbecue Bob Vol. 2 (1928 - 1929)

1. Mississippi Low-Levee Blues

2. Ease It To Me Blues

3. Jacksonville Blues

4. Midnight Weeping Blues

5. She's Gone Blues

6. Cold Wave Blues

7. Beggin' For Love

8. Bad Time Blues

9. Meat Man Pete

10. Dollar Down Blues

11. It Just Won't Hay

12. It's Just Too Bad

13. Good Time Rounder

14. Honey Your Going Too Fast

15. Red Hot Mama Papa's Going To Cool You Off

16. California Blues

17. It's A Funny Little Thing

18. Black Skunk Blues

19. Yo Yo Blues

20. Trouble Done Bore Me Down

21. Freeze To Me Mama

22. Me And My Whiskey

23. Unnamed Blues

x

Track List: Barbecue Bob Vol. 1 (1927 - 1928)

1. Barbecue Blues

2. Cloudy Sky Blues

3. Mississippi Heavy Water Blues

4. Mamma You Don't Suit Me!

5. Brown-Skin Girl

6. Honey You Don't Know My Mind

7. Poor Boy A Long Ways From Home

8. When The Saints Go Marching In (1927)

9. Jesus' Blood Can Make Me Whole (1927)

10. Easy Rider Don't You Deny My Name

11. Thinkin' Funny Blues

12. My Mistake Blues

13. Motherless Chile Blues

14. How Long Pretty Mama

15. It Won't Be Long Now - Part 1 (1927)

16. It Won't Be Long Now - Part 2

17. Crooked Woman Blues

18. Fo Day Creep

19. Blind Pig Blues

20. Waycross Georgia Blues

21. Giong Up The Country

22. Chocolate To The Bone

23. Hurry And Bring It Back Home

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