I count myself exceedingly lucky to have seen Dave ‘Honeyboy’ Edwards in 2009. It is always a great event to see an old original from that magic era of the seminal Delta Blues. Dave was never one of my favourites but he had a great and interesting life, produced some good music and was present at seminal moments in history. He was 94 years old when I saw him and still going strong. During the gig he told us about his life back as an itinerant musician playing the jukes and bars back in the thirties and the night he was playing in a tavern in Greenwood Mississippi with Robert Johnson the night he was poisoned. His tale was that Robert, who was a bit of a ladies man, was making eyes at the Landlord’s wife. The Landlord plied them with whisky and probably put rat poison (strychnine) in that whisky. Dave says he told Robert not to drink it because that was quite a common trick at the time but Robert did anyway. Robert went home with a bad stomach ache but nobody thought it was that serious. He was shocked that he had died from it.
Seeing Dave was quite ironic. I had just returned from going around Mississippi looking at the old Blues sites and hadn’t manage to find any Blues being played anywhere. On coming back I found T-Model Ford playing in York and discovered I had walked right past his house (with him likely in his front room) in Clarksdale the week before. The next week Dave was playing in Sheffield.
While in Mississippi I had looked at three possible sites where Robert Johnson was supposed to have been buried.
I had an opportunity to have a short conversation with Dave after the show and he told me that it was the grave behind church and that he’d been there when they’d buried him.
The Blues is the basis of all modern music. We owe a great debt to people like Dave ‘Honeboy’ Edwards. They’ve enriched our lives.