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Saturday, February 16, 2013

I'm in the Highway,man - Calvin Frazier

Calvin H. Frazier (February 16, 1915 – September 23, 1972) was an American Detroit blues and country blues guitarist, singer and songwriter. Despite leaving a fragmented recording history, both as a singer and guitarist, Frazier was an associate of Robert Johnson, and recorded alongside Johnny Shines, Sampson Pittman, T.J. Fowler, Alberta Adams, Jimmy Milner, Baby Boy Warren, Boogie Woogie Red, and latterly Washboard Willie. His early work was recorded by the Library of Congress (now preserved by the National Recording Registry) prior to the outbreak of World War II, although his more commercial period took place between 1949 and 1956 Frazier was born in Osceola, Arkansas, and originally performed with his own brothers. Befriending Johnny Shines, in 1930 they jointly travelled to Helena, Arkansas where they met Robert Johnson. The threesome moved on to Detroit, Michigan, performing hymns on local radio stations. Frazier and Johnson returned south where they played along with the drummer, James 'Peck' Curtis. In 1935 Frazier was involved in dispute in Memphis, Tennessee where he was wounded and another man was shot dead. Frazier returned to Detroit, and married a cousin of Shines. He played guitar as an accompanist to Big Maceo Merriweather, Sonny Boy Williamson II and Baby Boy Warren before being recorded in 1938 by the folklorist Alan Lomax for the Library of Congress. His recordings included "Lily Mae", a revised version of Johnson's "Honeymoon Blues"; and "Highway 51", another variant, this time of Johnson's track, "Dust My Broom". His unique style combined slide guitar work with unusual lyrics, and a vocal phrasing that was difficult to decipher. He released three singles under his own name in 1949 and 1951 on the Alben and New Song labels, including "Got Nobody To Tell My Troubles To", which he recorded in Toledo, Ohio in 1951. Between 1951 and 1953, Frazier was a recording member of T.J. Fowler's jump blues combo, then recorded with Warren in 1954, whilst his final sessions in the studio appear to be in 1956 backing Washboard Willie. Without any tangible success on record or otherwise, Frazier nevertheless performed around Detroit until his death. Calvin Frazier died in Detroit of cancer in September 1972, at the age of 57. His most notable work was "This Old World's in a Tangle"; both the title of the first song he recorded, and of the compilation album issued by Laurie Records in 1993, which included some of his earliest work. Nine of his full length original recordings were included in the JSP Records 2005 compilation, Detroit Blues: Blues from the Motor City 1938–1954. In 2009, the Detroit Blues Society instigated an appeal to raise monies to mark Frazier's previously unmarked grave with a headstone. By December that year a granite slab was in place If you support live Blues acts, up and coming Blues talents and want to learn more about Blues news and Fathers of the Blues, ”LIKE” ---Bman’s Blues Report--- Facebook Page! I’m looking for great talent and trying to grow the audience for your favorite band! Video


  1. what did Calvin record with Johnny Shines? also i think that he worked with Big Maceo, Rice Miller, and Baby Boy Warren, after his Library of Congress recordings after he moved to Detroit.

  2. Thank you. Not sure that they ever recorded together. The along side of them comment means they were contemporaries. They travelled together and played and recorded in similar places.. thanks again