Mississippi FRED







Mississippi Fred McDowell was born in 1904 in Rossville, a small town in Tennessee just east of Memphis. He was orphaned as a youngster and after living with relatives for a while, he took to the road as a travelling musician. By the 1920's he was playing on street corners around the Memphis area and he eventually settled in Como, Mississippi. For most of his life he split his time between farming during the week and performing at parties and picnics, and on the streets, at the weekends. His guitar playing, which was very percussive and 'delta style', was influenced by Charlie Patton and Son House. In 1959, and still only performing part time, he was found by folklorist Alan Lomax who recorded him, the songs being released by the Atlantic label. Nevertheless McDowell continued in a part time vein for a further five years until he was signed up by Arhoolie Records in 1964. He became an immediate success and was in great demand on the American college and folk festival circuit of the mid sixties, and also travelled to Europe. He also became a major influence on younger artists, Bonnie Raitt  in particular, and the Rolling Stones covered his "You Got to Move" on their 1971 album 'Sticky Fingers'. Ironically McDowell's most popular album was probably "I Do Not Play No Rock and Roll" on which he played electric guitar for the first time in the studio. After a short illness Mississippi Fred McDowell died in July 1972.