Speckled Red 1929 – 1938
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Speckled Red (Rufus Perryman)
Complete Recorded Works (1929 1938)
With Bonus Tracks (1956)
Featuring the recordings of:
Speckled Red (Rufus Perryman), vocal / piano (1, 2); or: piano solo (3). Speckled Red, vocal / piano. Speckled Red, vocal (except on 17) / piano; Robert Lee McCoy, guitar; Willie Hatcher, mandolin; Sonny Boy Williamson, harmonica added on 18. Willie Hatcher, vocal; prob. Speckled Red, piano; Robert Lee McCoy, guitar. Speckled Red, vocal / piano.
Genres: Blues, Country Blues, Urban Blues, Louisiana Blues, Georgia Blues, Piano Blues, Blues Guitar, Blues Harmonica, Blues Mandolin, Piano Solo,
Abridged from this album’s original booklet notes. Rufus Perryman was born in Monroe, Louisiana, in 1892. Henry and Ada Perryman were to have sixteen children one of whom, William, born nineteen years after Rufus, would later become famous as Piano Red. After the birth of Rufus his family relocated in Hampton, Georgia. Even so, it was hard to feed Rufus and his siblings. Rufus’ mother took him north to Detroit, presumably to stay with relatives and it was while he was in Detroit that Rufus began to take an interest in the piano and organ, playing in his local church. His approach to the piano was galvanized by seeing the musically precocious Paul Seminole, a prodigy from Florida who was eight years younger than Rufus himself. Speckled Red had always journeyed back and forth between Detroit and Georgia and continued, extending this habit when he reached maturity. By this time he was augmenting his day-job earnings by playing piano in clubs and whore-houses and at private parties. Around 1928 he joined the Red Rose Minstrels and spent a few years touring the south. During this time he became acquainted with fellow artists such as Tampa Red and Jim Jackson and it was probably through the latter that he first came to record, in a supporting role, and later appeared on the two-sided Jim Jackson’s Jamboree (Document DOCD-5115) His own first recordings were made for the Brunswick label in Memphis, in 1929. At that session Red cut four tracks, one, Shake Your Can was never issued but it was more than compensated for by The Dirty Dozens which became a big hit, spawning cover versions that continue to proliferate to this day. It was a bowdlerization of a song that Red would play in turpentine camps and such places “where it didn’t matter”. The song was based on the insult game, well known in black tradition, which was itself a parody of a religious learning device. In the sixties Red gave the original lyric to Paul Oliver who quoted it in his study “The Blue Blues” in his book “Screening the Blues”: it was pretty rough. The success of this recording meant that, following the policy of the times, Speckled Red was hauled back into a studio to record a “No.2” in April 1930. At this session he also recorded The Right String – But The Wrong Yo Yo a number that his younger brother would later make his own. Red’s only other pre-war session was made for Bluebird in 1938 in the company of Robert Lee McCoy (Nighthawk) on guitar and Willie Hatcher on the mandolin. Together they cut ten tracks that appeared over Red’s name the last of which has Sonny Boy Williamson also present playing harp. Blues And Gospel Records list Sonny Boy as also being present on two tracks cut at the same time and issued as by Willie Hatcher. Present he might have been but there is no harp audible on these tracks. Locating in St. Louis, Speckled Red gave up playing regularly in clubs and bars in favour of a steady job as a shipping clerk. Throughout the forties, however, he maintained his contacts with the musical world and in the fifties he began to pick up his career playing club dates first in St. Louis then touring California and finally making a European tour that found him recording in such unexpected venue cities as London and Copenhagen.Keith Briggs Copyright 1993: Document Records.