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 Fuller Up, The Dead Musician Directory
 
Lonnie Pitchford
 AIDS........ Nov 8, 1998
Age 43
OBITUARY 
BIOGRAPHY  
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OBITUARY 
 NY TIMES 
            Lonnie Pitchford, Delta Blues Musician, Dies 
               
                By JON PARELES 

                     Lonnie Pitchford, a Mississippi bluesman who was dedicated to reviving early Delta blues, died 
                     on Nov. 8 at his home in Lexington, Miss. He was 43.  

                The cause was pneumonia complications, said his manager, Patty Johnson.  

                Pitchford performed around the world and appeared regularly in New York, often in concerts 
                presented by the World Music Institute. He played the diddley-bow, a one-stringed instrument he 
                would assemble onstage from a two-by-four, two nails, broom wire and a crushed snuff can. Using a 
                dime as a slide, he would play driving, wailing blues lines.  

                He also played guitar and occasionally piano, singing classic Delta blues with a pensive, haunted 
                voice.  

                The diddley-bow was Pitchford's first instrument, made from baling wire nailed to the side of his 
                family's house in rural Lexington.  

                He sang in the church from childhood on and learned to play piano; he was 12 when he began 
                sharing a guitar with his four brothers.  

                Pitchford learned traditional Delta blues from Eugene Powell (who had played with the Mississippi 
                Sheiks in the 1930s) and from Robert Junior Lockwood, whose stepfather was Robert Johnson.  

                Pitchford's wife, Minnie, is the daughter of Elmore James' girlfriend, and Pitchford learned some 
                Elmore James songs that had been left with his mother-in-law.  

                He began performing outside Mississippi as a teen-ager, appearing at the Smithsonian Institution's 
                Festival of American Folklife from 1972 to 1991.  

                By the 1990s he had toured in Europe and Australia as well as the United States. When not on the 
                road, he worked as a carpenter.  

                He appeared in the documentaries "The Land Where the Blues Began" (1980) and "Deep Blues" 
                (1992), and was recorded for five blues anthologies before he made his first solo album, "All Around 
                Man," for Rooster Blues Records in 1994. He was working on an album for Mississippi Crossroads 
                Music. He also made an album with the New Africa String Band, which included Powell and Big 
                Jack Johnson.  

                Pitchford is survived by his wife; his mother, Rosie Pitchford; two sisters, Ersine Hodges and Brenda 
                Jones, and four brothers, Willie Douglas, Andrew James, Edward Charles and Roosevelt, all of 
                Mississippi.  

   

 
    Lonnie Pitchford
    Written by Jim O'Neal
     
         

                                                     Mississippi blues guitarist Lonnie Lee 
                                                     Pitchford, who had carried on the 
                                                     legacies of blues legends Robert 
                                                     Johnson and Elmore James, died of 
                                                     complications from HIV on Nov. 8 at 
                                                     his home in Lexington, Mississippi. He 
                                                     was 43. Pitchford had toured Europe 
                                                     and Australia and had played American 
                                                     venues such as the Rock and Roll Hall 
                                                     of Fame, the Chicago Blues Festival, 
                                                     the Delta Blues Museum, and the 
                                                     Smithsonian Festival of American 
                                                     Folklife.  

                                                     Pitchford was noted for his 
                                                     performances on his homemade 
                                                     one-string "diddley bows" as well as for 
                                                     his work on acoustic and electric guitar. 
                                                     In 1996 his slide guitar playing was 
                                                     featured on one track of a John Cougar 
                                                     Mellencamp CD.  
         

                                        Pitchford's only full CD, All Around Man, was released 
                                        by Rooster Blues Records in 1994. That CD included 
                                        songs he had learned from Robert Johnson's protege 
                                        Robert Jr. Lockwood, as well as a previously 
                                        unrecorded track that Lonnie's mother-in-law had 
                                        learned from her friend, the late slide guitar master 
                                        Elmore James. Pitchford will be buried on Nov. 14 at 
                                        the same cemetery where James was laid to rest in 
                                        1963, the Newport Community Cemetery near 
                                        Ebenezer, Mississippi. Services will be held at 11:30 
                                        a.m. at the Newport M.B. Church.  
         

               During the '70s and early '80s, Pitchford lived in 
               Kansas City, Lexington, Chicago, and Kalamazoo, 
               Michigan. He had spent the last several years in 
               Clarksdale, Mississippi, where he performed and 
               recorded, or around his hometown of Lexington. He 
               often worked as a carpenter, and played in gospel 
               groups as well as blues bands. He had been working 
               on a second album for Rooster Blues in late 1997 
               before his illness sidelined him. A few months before 
               his death he played Elmore James' guitar on a brief 
               session produced by Pat LeBlanc, administrator of 
               the Elmore James estate.  

               For more information about Lonnie Pitchford go to 
               Delta Musicians 

       
 

OBITUARY
BIOGRAPHY
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BIOGRAPHY
               
 Birthdate - October 8, 1955
 Birthplace - Lexington MS
 Died - November 8, 1998
          He was born and raised about five  miles outside of Lexington, a rural 
          Mississippi town not far from  Clarksdale. Lonnie Pitchford is one of 
          the most versatile musicians you will ever hear. He's played one room  
          juke joints and Carnegie Hall. He is a carpenter by trade and he is good  
          at his work. He's built his own guitars and his own house. A guiet man who 
          never lets on he is a world famous musician; Lonnie can be seen around 
          Clarksdale wearing his carpentry belt and carrying on his trade.  

           Lonnie began making one string guitars as a child and taught himself to 
           play them. He often constructs one on stage and then proceeds to amaze 
           audiences with his abilitiy to get incredible sounds from it. He also 
           builds a one string guitar known as the Diddley Bow. He can get more 
           from his Diddley Bow than a lot of guitarist can get from their Strat.  

           In 1974 Lonnie became an over night wonder when the Smithsonian  
          discovered his ability  to bring the material of the ledgendary Robert  
          Johnson to life. He was 17 years old and  whisked off to Washington  
          DC to play at the National Folk Festival. He banged together his one 
          string guitar on stage at the festival and proceeded to teach the  
          audience about the Blues.  

          Lonnie is not limited to his Diddley Bow. He is equally at home with 
          the Strat. On his latest  CD release "All Around Man" he plays acoustic 
          guitar, diddley bow, electric slide, lead,  rhythm, bass, piano, and mouth 
          harmonica. Proving he is an all around musician. 

Biography lifted without permission (but with gratitude)
from Delta Boogie. Please visit this wonderful, forgiving site.
 
 

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