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Huddie "Lead Belly" Ledbetter

1889 - 1949

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Lead Belly

Lead Belly - Where Did You Sleep Last Night

Huddie Ledbetter

Lead Belly
Huddie Ledbetter, better known as "Lead Belly," was born in the late 1880s (the date is stated as 1885 and 1889) in a country setting in northwest Louisiana. He attended school in Texas until around age 13, playing in a school band, and then worked the land with his father. He began learning how to play musical instruments as a youth and eventually focused on the guitar, performing as a teenager at local dances.

At age 16, he headed out across the Deep South, settling in Shreveport, Louisiana, for two years, where he supported himself as a musician. Around 1912, now living in Dallas with his new wife, Ledbetter met Blind Lemon Jefferson, an accomplished street musician, and the pair began playing together. It was at this point that Ledbetter concentrated on what would become his signature instrument: the 12-string guitar.
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Songs recorded by Lead Belly

He is best remembered for songs such as "Goodnight, Irene," "Rock Island Line," "The Midnight Special" and "Cotton Fields".
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Lead Belly Discography - Album CD

plus greatest hits, anthology, and other compilations

Lead Belly bio

Lead Belly
Huddie Ledbetter, better known to the music world as “Lead Belly” was born 20th January 1889, in Mooringsport, Louisiana (near Shreveport). Lead Belly was the only child of Wesley and Sally Ledbetter.

Lead Belly first tried his hand at playing music when he was only two years old. As a young man he was introduced to the guitar by his Uncle Terrell Ledbetter and from that moment on he was electrified by the guitar. He mastered that instrument and just about any instrument he laid his hands on. He learned to play the accordion, mandolin and piano which gave hime a wide knowledge of various musical instruments and rhythm. It has been said that one day Lead Belly witnessed a Mexican guitarist playing the twelve string guitar which struck his interest in mastering the unusal instrument.

He died in New York on 6th December 1949.
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Lead Belly
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Lead Belly statue in Shreveport, Louisiana

Huddie Ledbetter, better known to the music world as “Lead Belly” was from Mooringsport, Louisiana. and was accomplished musician. He could play the guitar, the accordion, mandolin and piano. His music still has a great influence on some of the greatest artists of today. There is a statue of him on Texas Street in downtown Shreveport, Louisiana.

Bio at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Lead Belly
He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.
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Lead Belly or Leadbelly

Some records and bill-boards appeared with his name spelt as Leadbelly but he wrote it "Lead Belly".

Christmas out of Jail

Angola prison
Lead Belly sang "Christmas Is A-Comin' (Chicken Crows at Midnight)" and other songs for the Louisiana State Penitentiary governor at Angola prison and gained his release.
Lead Belly - Christmas Is A Coming
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Blues music and artists new

Henry Sloan (1870-c1948)
W C Handy (1873-1958)
Lead Belly (1889-1949)
Charley Patton (c1891-1934)
Tommy Johnson (1896-1956)
Blind Willie Johnson (1897-1945)
Blind Lemon Jefferson (1893-1929)
Willie Brown (1900-1952)
Son House (1902-1988)
Skip James (1902-1969)
Howlin' Wolf (1910-1976)
Robert Johnson (1911-1938)
Lightnin' Hopkins (1912-1982)
Muddy Waters (1913-1983)
John Lee Curtis "Sonny Boy" Williamson (1914-1948)
Sonny Boy Williamson (Alex Miller) (1912-1965)
Willie Dixon (1915-1992)
Elmore James (1918-1963)
John Lee Hooker (1917-2001)
B.B. King (1925-2015 )
Freddie King (1934-1976)
Buddy Guy (1936-todate)
Rory Block (1949-todate)

Coming soon

Blind Willie McTell (1898–1959)
Pops Staples (1914-2000) - soon
Big Mama Thornton (1926-1984) - soon
Kokomo Arnold
Tampa Red (1904-1981) - soon
[ Blues music ]
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Lead Belly in concert

Lead Belly - The Gallows Pole
Lead Belly - Christmas Is A-Coming
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