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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: Night Time Is The Right Time

1. Night Time Is The Right Time

2. Miss Ida B

3. Ruthie Lee

4. Satellite Baby

5. Security Blues

6. Walking The Boogie

7. Hey Big Momma

8. Boogie Sykes

9. Something Like That

10. Four O'clock Boogie

11. Hot Boogie

12. Hush Oh Hush

13. Stompin' The Boogie

14. I Hate To Be Alone

15. Mislead Mother

16. Hangover

17. I'm Tired

18. The Honeydripper

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: Boot That Thing

1. Boot That Thing

2. Roosevelt's Blues

3. Ten And Four Blues

4. Give Me Your Change

5. 32-20 Blues

6. She's In My Blood

7. '44 ' Blues

8. Sad And Lonely Day

9. D-B-A Blues

10. The Honey Dripper

11. Up And Downs Blues

12. Love Will Wear You Down

13. 47th Street Jive

14. Sykes Advice Blues

15. Honeysuckle Rose

16. 15c A Day

17. Mellow Queen

18. Jivin' The Jive

x

Track List: The Meek

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

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: Roosevelt Sykes Vol. 10 (1951-1957)

1. Fine And Brown

2. Lucky Blues

3. Raining In My Heart

4. Heavy Heart

5. Walkin' This Boogie

6. Four O'Clock Blues

7. Hot Boogie

8. Something Like That

9. Security Blues

10. Toy Piano Blues

11. Listen To My Song

12. Come Back Baby

13. Ruthie Lee

14. Tell Me True

15. Boogie Sykes

16. You Can't Be Lucky All The Time

17. Sweet Old Chicago

18. Blood Stains

19. Hush Oh Hush

20. I'm Tired

21. Crazy Fox

22. She's Jail Bait

23. Sputnik Baby

24. Lowland Blues

25. Savoy Boogie

x

Track List: Roosevelt Sykes Vol. 9: 1947-1951)

1. Boogie Honky Tonk

2. Booze Blues

3. Time Wasted On You

4. Until The Cows Come Home

5. High As A Georgia Pine

6. I Know How You Feel

7. Candy Man Blues

8. Why Should I Cry

9. He's Just A Gravy Train

10. Southern Blues

11. Stop Her Poppa

12. My Baby Is Gone

13. Drivin' Wheel

14. Rock It

15. West Helena Blues

16. Mailbox Blues

17. Winter Time Blues

18. Blues 'n' Boogie

19. Green Onion Top

20. Wonderin' Blues

21. Dark Clouds (Feat. John Brim)

22. Lonesome Man Blues (Feat. John Brim)

23. Going Down The Line (Feat. Grace Brim)

24. Leaving Daddy Blues (Feat. Grace Brim)

x

Track List: The Honeydripper (Remastered)

1. Miss Ida B.

2. Mislead Mother

3. Yes, Lawd

4. I Hate To Be Alone

5. Jailbait

6. Lonely Day

7. Satellite Baby

8. Pocketful Of Money

9. She Ain't For Nobody

x

Track List: Vol. 4 (1934-1936)

1. D.B.A. Blues

2. Ethel Mae Blues

8. D.B.A. Blues No. 2

9. Dirty Mother For You

10. Dirty Mother For You

11. The Cannon Ball

12. Jet Black Snake

13. She Left Me Cold In Hand

14. Driving Wheel Blues

15. Barrel House Man

16. Second Floor Blues

17. Sister Kelly Blues

18. Soft And Mellow

19. Sugar Hill Blues

20. Take Off Box

21. The Honey Dripper

22. Dirty Mother For You

x

Track List: Roosevelt Sykes Vol. 7 (1941-1944)

1. K.M.A. Blues

2. Trouble And Whiskey

3. My Supply Woman Blues

4. Prison Gate Blues

5. Sykes Advice Blues

6. Low As A Toad

7. Let The Black Have His Way

8. 15 Cents A Day

9. Just Hanging Around

10. Keep Your Hands Off Her

11. Roll On Blues

12. Skin And Bones Blues

13. Third Degree Blues

14. Pay Day Blues

15. Training Camp Blues

16. Sugar Babe Blues

17. Are You Unhappy?

18. You Can't Do That Do Me

19. Love Has Something To Say

20. Honeysuckle Rose

21. Mellow Queen

22. Jivin' The Jive

23. I Wonder

x

Track List: Roosevelt Sykes Vol. 5 (1937-1939)

1. Little And Low

2. Night Time Is The Right Time

3. Monte Carlo Blues

4. She Squeezed My Lemon

5. Somebody's Been Ridin' My Black Gal

6. Bread Pan

7. Ice Cream Freezer

8. Drunken Gambler

9. Hospital, Heaven Or Hell

10. Love Lease Blues

11. Hard Lead Pencil

12. My Baby's Playground

13. Night Gown Blues

14. Sad Yas Yas Yas

15. Let Me Hand Your Stockings In Your Christmas Tree

16. Mistake In Life

17. Night Time Is The Right Time, No. 2

18. The Dog In A Man

19. She's Long Gone

20. The Train Is Coming

21. Down On My Knees

22. Bitter Cup Blues

23. Have You Seen Ida B?

24. Journey From The Germs

25. You Can't Fix It Back

x

Track List: Roosevelt Sykes Vol. 1 (1929-1930)

1. 44 Blues

2. All My Money Gone Blues

3. The Way I Feel Blues

4. Henry Ford Blues

5. I'm Tired Of Being Mistreated

6. Boot That Thing

7. Fire Detective Blues

8. Little Sow Blues

9. Single Tree Blues

10. Trouble Everywhere Blues

11. Working Man On The Seas

12. Beale And Main Blues

13. Long Tall Man Blues

14. Skeet And Garret

15. Roosevelt's Blues

16. Ten And Four Blues

17. Black River Blues

18. Bury That Thing

19. Home Of Your Own Blues

20. Lost All I Had Blues

21. Poor Boy Blues

22. Jivin' Jelly Roll Blues

23. Rough Treatin' Daddy

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!
Report as inappropriate
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.
Report as inappropriate
This is a great photo of this man....You gotta love him
Report as inappropriate
Rita and I saw Roosevelt Sykes in a sleazy bar in Somerville Mass in 1973. he was a spectacular performer.
Report as inappropriate
I love all of the old school blues, keep em coming. E.z livin
Report as inappropriate
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.
Report as inappropriate
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.
Report as inappropriate
FANTASTIC BOOGIE
Report as inappropriate
RS was a gem, he knew how a tell a story.
Report as inappropriate
hepcat radio is a fraud. The site only takes you to a dead end bogus site. you never get to the promised videos.
Report as inappropriate
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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