By his teens, Blackwell was a part-time musician, traveling as far as Chicago. Known for being withdrawn and hard to work with, Blackwell established a rapport with pianist Leroy Carr, whom he met in Indianapolis in the mid-1920s and created a productive working relationship. Carr convinced Blackwell to record with him for the Vocalion label in 1928; the result was "How Long, How Long Blues", the biggest blues hit of that year. Blackwell also made solo recordings for Vocalion, including "Kokomo Blues" which was transformed into "Old Kokomo Blues" by Kokomo Arnold before being redone as "Sweet Home Chicago" by Robert Johnson. Blackwell and Carr toured throughout the American Midwest and South between 1928 and 1935 as stars of the blues scene, recording over 100 sides.
This period ended when Carr died as a result of his heavy drinking and nephritis. Blackwell recorded a tribute to his musical partner of seven years before leaving the music business. Blackwell was rediscovered in Indianapolis at the end of the 1950s and agreed to return to music as the blues/folk revival began. He recorded an album for the Prestige/Bluesville Records label in 1962 and appeared ready to restart his blues career before being shot and killed during a mugging in an Indianapolis alley. The crime remains unsolved.
Blackwell is buried in New Crown Cemetery, Indianapolis. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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