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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Devils Hand - Johnny Copeland

Johnny Copeland (March 27, 1937 – July 3, 1997) was an American Texas blues guitarist and singer.
Born in Haynesville, Louisiana, United States, while Copeland was becoming interested in music, he also pursued boxing, mostly as an avocation, and it is from his days as a boxer that he got his nickname "Clyde." Also as a teenager influenced by T-Bone Walker he formed the 'Dukes of Rhythm' in Houston, Texas, and made his recording debut in 1956, signing with Duke Records the following year. In his early years he played with such acts as Sonny Boy Williamson, Big Mama Thornton and Freddie King. Although his early records met with little commercial success, he became a popular touring act over the next two decades.

His early recording career embraced blues, soul and rock and roll. He cut singles for Mercury, All Boy and Golden Eagle, amongst others. His first single was "Rock 'n' Roll Lily", and he later cut regional successes such as "Please Let Me Know" and "Down On Bending Knees." For the most part, his singles featured Copeland as a vocalist more than a guitar player.

Driven by disco to rethink his future, he moved to New York in 1979,[4] and played extensively in the eastern cities. In 1981, he was signed by Rounder Records, releasing albums including Copeland Special (1981) and Bringing It All Back Home (1985), and touring widely. Copeland appeared at the 1983 Long Beach Blues Festival, and the 1988 San Francisco Blues Festival. He won a Grammy in 1987 for best traditional blues album for the album Showdown!, recorded with Robert Cray and Albert Collins.

Copeland also played at the 1985 Montreaux Jazz Festival, as a guest with Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, with Vaughan and Copeland most famously performing the Bob Geddins song, "Tin Pan Alley (AKA Roughest Place In Town)" together on Vaughan's Blues At Sunrise album.

His later years were dogged by ill health due to a congential heart defect. He died, aged 60, in Harlem, New York, from complications during heart surgery for a heart transplanted six months earlier. Copeland was a resident of Teaneck, New Jersey.

His daughter, Shemekia Copeland, established a successful career as a singer. He was also survived by his wife, son and two daughters.

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