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Robert Nighthawk

Birth name  Robert Lee McCollum
Role  Musician
Name  Robert Nighthawk

Associated acts  Memphis Jug Band
Occupation(s)  Musician
Genres  Blues
Robert Nighthawk The Robert Nighthawk Story
Also known as  Robert Lee McCoy Robert Nighthawk
Born  November 30, 1909 Helena, Arkansas, United States (1909-11-30)
Instruments  Vocals, slide guitar, harmonica
Died  November 5, 1967, Helena, Arkansas, United States
Albums  Live on Maxwell Street - 1964
Record labels  Chess Records, Delmark Records
Similar People  Houston Stackhouse, Big Walter Horton, Forest City Joe, Carey Bell, Johnny Otis

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Robert Lee McCollum (November 30, 1909 – November 5, 1967) was an American blues musician who played and recorded under the pseudonyms Robert Lee McCoy and Robert Nighthawk. He was the father of the blues musician Sam Carr.

Robert Nighthawk The Robert Nighthawk Story

Robert nighthawk slide style charlie musselwhite


Life and career

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McCollum was born in Helena, Arkansas. He left home at an early age and became a busking musician. After a period traveling through southern Mississippi, he settled for a time in Memphis, Tennessee, where he played with local orchestras and musicians, such as the Memphis Jug Band. A particular influence during this period was Houston Stackhouse, from whom he learned to play slide guitar and with whom he performed on the radio in Jackson, Mississippi.

Robert Nighthawk Happy Birthday Robert Nighthawk Audio Reckoning

After further travels through Mississippi, he found it advisable to take his mother's name and, as Robert Lee McCoy, moved to St. Louis, Missouri, in the mid-1930s. Local musicians with whom he played included Henry Townsend, Big Joe Williams, and Sonny Boy Williamson. This led to two recording dates in 1937, the four musicians recording together at the Victor Records studio in Aurora, Illinois, as well as recordings under his own name, including "Prowling Night-Hawk" (recorded 5 May 1937), from which he was to take his later pseudonym. These sessions led to Chicago blues careers for the other musicians, though not for McCoy, who continued his rambling life, playing and recording (for Victor/Bluebird Records and Decca Records) solo and with various other musicians, under various names. Kansas City Red was his drummer from the early 1940s to around 1946. He recorded Kansas City Red’s song "The Moon Is Rising".

Robert Nighthawk Robert Lee McCoy Prowling NightHawk YouTube

McCoy became a familiar voice on local radio stations. Then Robert Lee McCoy disappeared. Within a few years, he resurfaced as the electric slide guitarist Robert Nighthawk and began recording for Aristocrat and Chess Records, the latter of which was also Muddy Waters's label. In 1949 and 1950, the two men's styles were close enough that they were in competition for promotional activity. Waters was the more marketable commodity, being more reliable and a more confident stage communicator, and thus received the attention. Nighthawk continued to perform and record, taking up with United Records and States Records 1951 and 1952, but did not achieve great commercial success.

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In 1963, Nighthawk was rediscovered busking in Chicago, and this led to further recording sessions and club dates and to his return to Arkansas, where he performed on the radio program King Biscuit Time, on KFFA. He continued giving live performances on Chicago's Maxwell Street until 1964.

He had a stroke followed by a heart attack and died of heart failure at his home in Helena. He is buried in Magnolia Cemetery, in Helena.

Historical marker

The Mississippi Blues Commission honored Nighthawk with a historical marker in Friars Point, Mississippi, on the Mississippi Blues Trail. The marker was placed at Friars Point because Nighthawk called the town his home at various times in his itinerant career. He recorded the song "Friars Point Blues" in 1940.

Recordings

  • Bricks in My Pillow, 1977, Delmark reissue of 1951 and 1952 United recordings
  • Robert Nighthawk: Prowling with the Nighthawk (Document), 26 sides recorded for Bluebird, Decca, Aristocrat, and United from 1937 to 1952, including "My Sweet Lovin' Woman" (which he wrote under his given name, Robert McCollum)
  • Ramblin' Bob (Saga), 24 tracks recorded for Victor, Decca, Chess, and United from 1937 to 1952
  • Live on Maxwell Street (1964), as Robert Nighthawk and his Flames of Rhythm (reissued by Rounder Records, 1980, 1991; some versions include an extended interview with Nighthawk)
  • Robert Nighthawk: Sweet Black Angel (1948)
  • The Aristocrat of the Blues, MCA/Chess CHD2-9387
  • References

    Robert Nighthawk Wikipedia


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