Blind Joe Reynolds
Blind Joe Reynolds
Whilst it is widely thought to have been Joe Sheppard, his nephew Henry Millage claimed it was Joe Leonard. Throughout his career, Reynolds travelled the country performing under various aliases as a way of evading the police, as he had served at least two jail sentences in his early life, as well as "escaping his enemies". After years of travelling and performing on street corners, Reynolds was eventually discovered in 1929 by musical talent scout H.C. Speir and is known to have entered the studio at least twice, recording four songs on each occasion. In November 1929, Speir took Reynolds to a small studio in Grafton, Wisconsin, where he recorded the songs "Cold Woman Blues", "Nehi Blues", "Ninety Nine Blues" and "Outside Woman Blues". These were recorded under the name 'Blind Joe Reynolds' and released as two 78rpm records by Paramount Records. In November 1930, Reynolds re-entered the studio, this time in Memphis, Tennessee.
There he recorded the songs "Goose Hill Woman Blues", "Married Man Blues", "Short Dress Blues" and "Third Street Woman Blues" under the name 'Blind Willie Reynolds' for Victor Records. However, only two of these songs were released, on a single 78rpm record. The recordings of "Goose Hill Woman Blues" and "Short Dress Blues" are thought to be lost forever. The song "Outside Woman Blues" would later find fame when it was recorded by Cream for their 1967 album, Disraeli Gears. The group became aware of the song after guitarist Eric Clapton heard it featured on the compilation album Country Blues Encores (1965, Origin Jazz Library OJL-8).
Curiously, on their version, Cream gave the writing credit to 'Arthur Reynolds'. Reynolds' "Ninety Nine Blues"/"Cold Woman Blues" 78rpm recording for Paramount was thought to be lost until 2000 when a copy, which had been purchased in 1976 at a flea market for one dollar, surfaced. It subsequently sold privately for an undisclosed amount. It remains the only known copy in existence. In March 1968, Reynolds was admitted to a hospital in Monroe, Louisiana following a stroke, where he died on March 10. The cause of death was pneumonia.
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