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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Hobo Blues - Charley West

Charley West was born in Andalusia, AL. on September 27. 1914 and raised in Cincinnati, OH. He began singing in the mid-1920's with probable encouragement from Leroy Carr. In 1929 he moved to Chicago, IL. and began singing and playing piano in clubs. In 1937 Big Bill Broonzy got West a recording date at Bluebird Records where he recorded four sides in May. A few months later in July, he cut two more sides for Vocalion as "Poor Charlie". For unknown reasons, West didn't play piano on any of his recordings. The piano on the Bluebird recordings was played by Black Bob, while Joshua Altheimer manned the chair on the Vocalion sides. West didn't make any more recordings but kept playing in clubs up until the late 1940's. He stoppeed playing piano around 1949 or 1950 due to a wrist injury. He then held down a job in a steel mill for the next decade. Charley's daughter Dorothy married blues singer/harmonica player Carey Bell. In the 1960's Bell would let his father-in-law sit in and sing at gigs on occasion. On April 16, 1976 Charley West passed away from a heart attack.

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