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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

If I Lose Let Me Loose - John Lee Ziegler

b. June 18 (or April 12), 1929 d. May 3, 2008
Part of John Lee Ziegler's unorthodox style comes from the fact that he was a left-handed guitarist who played a right-handed guitar upside-down, with the bass strings at the bottom. Born in 1929 in Houston County, Ziegler started playing guitar at age 15 as a fluke: when his parents couldn't find him the bicycle he requested as a gift, they returned from Macon with a guitar instead. It didn't take Ziegler long to get good enough to play local clubs and house parties; he even spent some time in New York playing with a band. He also told Mitchell he'd spent some time with John Lee Hooker in Hawkinsville, Georgia. When Mitchell came across him in the late 1970s, Ziegler was still residing in Houston County, working as a plumber and playing at his house for any neighbors interested in stopping by to hear. He had one of the most diverse repertories of any Chattahoochee performer Mitchell encountered, playing John Lee Hooker songs, Sam Cooke's pop hits, and traditional Chattahoochee songs like "If I Lose Let Me Lose" all in his distinctive style. Ziegler could sing some gospel, but while a lot of the musicians Mitchell recorded had given up blues for the church, Ziegler was content in his choice to stick with secular music.

George Mitchell: John Lee had a spoons player named Rufus and people would gather out in the front yard and listen to them play as we'd be recording. And kids would be dancin' all over the yard. We recorded a version of John Lee doing "John Henry" where he shouts in the middle, "Look at that little kid dancin', there!" It was some scene. John Lee wanted his own record, which was fine by me, but I told him, "John Lee you got to come up with some more songs of your own. You can't just come record all this Lightnin' Hopkins, John Lee Hooker shit." And be did eventually come up with a bunch of new songs. He was a nice, gentle guy, but he was hard to deal with – he thought I was ripping him off, and wanted to get lawyers involved and all this shit – and the record never happened. But he was something else.
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1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting this from the guy who discovered and recorded him: George Mitchell