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Roosevelt Sykes

Next time someone voices the goofball opinion that blues is simply too depressing to embrace, sit 'em down and expose 'em to a heady dose of Roosevelt Sykes. If he doesn't change their minds, nothing will. There was absolutely nothing downbeat about this roly-poly, effervescent pianist (nicknamed "Honeydripper" for his youthful prowess around the girls), whose lengthy career spanned the pre-war and postwar eras with no interruption whatsoever. Sykes' romping boogies and hilariously risqué lyrics (his double-entendre gems included "Dirty Mother for You," "Ice Cream Freezer," and "Peeping Tom") characterize his monumental contributions to the blues idiom. He was a pioneering piano pounder responsible for the seminal pieces "44 Blues," "Driving Wheel," and "Night Time Is the Right Time."

Sykes began playing while growing up in Helena. At age 15, he hit the road, developing his rowdy barrelhouse style around the blues-fertile St. Louis area. Sykes began recording in 1929 for OKeh and was signed to four different labels the next year under four different names (he was variously billed as Dobby Bragg, Willie Kelly, and Easy Papa Johnson)! Sykes joined Decca Records in 1935, where his popularity blossomed. After relocating to Chicago, Sykes inked a pact with Bluebird in 1943 and recorded prolifically for the RCA subsidiary with his combo, the Honeydrippers, scoring a pair of R&B hits in 1945 (covers of Cecil Gant's "I Wonder" and Joe Liggins' "The Honeydripper"). The following year, he scored one more national chart item for the parent Victor logo, the lowdown blues "Sunny Road." He also often toured and recorded with singer St. Louis Jimmy Oden, the originator of the classic "Going Down Slow."

In 1951, Sykes joined Chicago's United Records, cutting more fine sides over the next couple of years. A pair of Dave Bartholomew-produced 1955 dates for Imperial in New Orleans included a rollicking version of "Sweet Home Chicago" that presaged all the covers that would surface later on. A slew of albums for Bluesville, Folkways, Crown, and Delmark kept Sykes on the shelves during the '60s (a time when European tours began to take up quite a bit of the pianist's itinerary). He settled in New Orleans during the late '60s, where he remained a local treasure until his death.

Precious few pianists could boast the thundering boogie prowess of Roosevelt Sykes, and even fewer could chase away the blues with his blues as the rotund cigar-chomping 88s ace did. ~ Bill Dahl
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: The Honeydripper's Ball

1. Shaking The Boogie

2. Too Smart Too Soon

3. Springfield Blues

4. Honeysuckle Blues

5. Tall Heavy Mama

6. I Am In Love With A Lover

7. New Orleans Jump

8. Safety Pin Blues

9. Man Is In Trouble

10. Dangerous Man

11. Roosevelt's Mood

12. Blues Bass

13. Driving Wheel

14. Night Time Is The Right Time

x

Track List: Blues By Roosevelt "The Honeydripper" Sykes

1. Sweet Old Chicago

2. Don't Care Blues

3. 47th Street Jive

4. Memphis Slim Rock

5. 44 Blues

6. Security Blues

7. R.S. Stomp

8. Ran The Blues Out Of My Window

9. All My Money's Gone

10. Woman In Elaine, Arkansas

11. The Mistaken Life

12. The Sweet Root Man

13. The Thing

14. Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone

x

Track List: Original Honeydripper

1. Cow Cow Blues (Live)

2. Drivin' Wheel (Live)

3. Honeysuckle Rose (Live)

4. St. James Infirmary (Live)

5. I Like What You Did (Live)

6. What'd I Say (Live)

7. I'm A Nut (Live)

8. Running The Boogie (Live)

9. Too Smart Too Soon (Live)

10. Viper Song (Live)

11. Don't Talk Me To Death (Live)

12. Early Morning Blues (Live)

13. Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone (Live)

14. Dirty Mother For You (Live)

x

Track List: The Return Of Roosevelt Sykes

1. Drivin' Wheel

2. Long Lonesome Night

3. Set The Meat Outdoors

4. Coming Home

5. Stompin' The Boogie

6. Number Nine

7. Calcutta

8. Selfish Woman

9. Hangover

10. Night Time Is The Right Time

11. Runnin' The Boogie

12. Hey Big Momma

Comments

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Dis be Da Man......... . . I f yo feet ain't moving....Yo u must be dead!
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SHONUFF ! EXCELLENT BOOGIE MUSIC! Thanx A-GAIN Pandora, 4 the informative bios, related artists, ESPECIALLY PLAYIN THESE RIGHTEOUS PEOPLE FROM DA WAY-BACK MO-SHEEN. LUV IT !! So cool dat Phillips couple still gettin down 2 kool tunes, let alone been together since back then, & got 2 witness Mr.Roosevelt rockin ALIVE ! God bless yall.
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This is a great photo of this man....You gotta love him
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Rita and I saw Roosevelt Sykes in a sleazy bar in Somerville Mass in 1973. he was a spectacular performer.
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I love all of the old school blues, keep em coming. E.z livin
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I need to go to New Orleans, LA. too. Oh, I was a lady of the night there. I done did NYC, now it's time to re-tread and pay back. all in peace.
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Mercy! Mercy! this is bringin back some old school stuff..... real old ... I do believe in reincarnatio n . I am an old soul. I will go back to Atlanta.
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FANTASTIC BOOGIE
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RS was a gem, he knew how a tell a story.
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hepcat radio is a fraud. The site only takes you to a dead end bogus site. you never get to the promised videos.
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I just heard Mr. Sykes for the 1st time he is great! I added him to my collection at "HEP CAT Radio"

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