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Charlie Jordan (Holiday)

Charley Jordan was a Saint Louis blues singer, songwriter. and guitarist, as well as a talent scout and businessman (he was a bootlegger, actually, which would prove defining later in his life) and he led, organized, or participated in numerous recording sessions from the 1920s to the '40s. Born January 1, 1890 in Mabelvale, Arkansas, Jordan recorded several singles for Vocalion and Decca between 1930 and 1937, including his best-known song "Keep It Clean," and he worked regularly with the likes of Roosevelt Sykes, Peetie Wheatstraw, Casey Bill Weldon, Memphis Minnie, and Big Joe Williams into the '40s. He also cut tracks under an assortment of names and spellings, Charley Jordon, Charlie Jordan, Jordan, and Uncle Skipper among them, leaving behind a small but sturdy legacy of country blues sides. He didn't lack what is now termed street cred, that's for sure. He was, after all, a bit of a gangster, and he paid for it in 1928 when he was shot in the spine over a bootlegging dispute of some sort. Most pictures of him show a pair of crutches somewhere in the shot. "Keep It Clean" was Jordan's biggest hit, but it is "Starvation Blues" that is perhaps his signature song, with its jagged, floating blues lyrics ringing eerily relevant even in a new century. His collected recorded works are available in three volumes from Document Records. Jordan died on November 15, 1954 in St. Louis, Missouri. ~ Steve Leggett
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