Big Joe Williams

Joseph Lee "Big Joe" Williams (October 16, 1903 – December 17, 1982) was an American Delta blues guitarist, singer and songwriter, notable for the distinctive sound of his nine-string guitar. Performing over four decades, he recorded the songs "Baby Please Don't Go", "Crawlin' King Snake" and "Peach Orchard Mama", among many others, for various record labels, including Bluebird, Delmark, Okeh, Prestige and Vocalion. He was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame on October 4, 1992.

The blues historian Barry Lee Pearson (Sounds Good to Me: The Bluesman's Story, Virginia Piedmont Blues) described Williams's performance:

When I saw him playing at Mike Bloomfield's "blues night" at the Fickle Pickle, Williams was playing an electric nine-string guitar through a small ramshackle amp with a pie plate nailed to it and a beer can dangling against that. When he played, everything rattled but Big Joe himself. The total effect of this incredible apparatus produced the most buzzing, sizzling, African-sounding music I have ever heard.

Birth and Death Data: Born October 16th, 1903 (Lowndes County), Died December 17th, 1982 (Mississippi)

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1935 - 1945

Roles Represented in DAHR: composer, vocalist, guitar, lyricist, leader

Recordings

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Victor BS-85479 10-in. 2/25/1935 Sloppy drunk again Walter Davis Male vocal solo ("blues singer"), with 2 guitars and piano instrumentalist, guitar  
Victor BS-85480 10-in. 2/25/1935 Travelin' this lonesome road Walter Davis Male vocal solo ("blues singer"), with 2 guitars and piano instrumentalist, guitar  
Victor BS-85481 10-in. 2/25/1935 Sad and lonesome blues Walter Davis Male vocal solo ("blues singer"), with 2 guitars and piano instrumentalist, guitar  
Victor BS-85482 10-in. 2/25/1935 Minute man Walter Davis Male vocal solo, with 2 guitars and piano instrumentalist, guitar  
Victor BS-85483 10-in. 2/25/1935 Minute man Walter Davis Male vocal solo, with 2 guitars and piano instrumentalist, guitar  
Victor BS-85484 10-in. 2/25/1935 Sweet sixteen Walter Davis Male vocal solo, with 2 guitars and piano instrumentalist, guitar  
Victor BS-85485 10-in. 2/25/1935 Wonder where my baby's gone Walter Davis Male vocal solo, with 2 guitars and piano instrumentalist, guitar  
Victor BS-85487 10-in. 2/25/1935 Little leg woman Big Joe Williams Male vocal solo, with guitar lyricist, composer, vocalist  
Victor BS-85488 10-in. 2/25/1935 Somebody been borrowing that stuff Big Joe Williams Male vocal solo, with 2 guitars lyricist, composer, vocalist  
Victor BS-85489 10-in. 2/25/1935 Providence help the poor people Big Joe Williams Male vocal solo, with 2 guitars lyricist, composer, vocalist  
Victor BS-85490 10-in. 2/25/1935 49 Highway blues Big Joe Williams Male vocal solo, with 2 guitars lyricist, composer, vocalist  
Victor BS-85491 10-in. 2/25/1935 My grey pony Big Joe Williams Male vocal solo, with 2 guitars lyricist, composer, vocalist  
Victor BS-85492 10-in. 2/25/1935 Stepfather blues Big Joe Williams Male vocal solo, with 2 guitars composer, lyricist, vocalist  
Victor BS-85520 10-in. 2/26/1935 The spasm Daddy Stovepipe ; Mississippi Sarah Female-male vocal duet, with guitar, harmonica, and jug lyricist, composer  
Victor BS-85532 10-in. 2/27/1935 Milk cow blues Amos Male vocal solo, with guitar and piano composer  
Victor BS-96244 10-in. 10/31/1935 Baby, please don't go Joe Williams’ Washboard Blues Singers Male vocal solo ("blues singer"), with instrumental trio vocalist, instrumentalist, guitar, lyricist, leader, composer  
Victor BS-96245 10-in. 10/31/1935 Stack o' dollars Joe Williams’ Washboard Blues Singers Male vocal solo ("blues singer"), with instrumental trio instrumentalist, guitar, vocalist, composer, lyricist, leader  
Victor BS-96246 10-in. 10/31/1935 Wild cow blues Joe Williams’ Washboard Blues Singers Male vocal solo ("blues singer"), with instrumental trio leader, lyricist, vocalist, instrumentalist, guitar, composer  
Victor BS-96247 10-in. 10/31/1935 Worried man blues Joe Williams’ Washboard Blues Singers Male vocal solo ("blues singer"), with instrumental trio vocalist, instrumentalist, guitar, composer, lyricist, leader  
Victor BS-07661 10-in. 5/5/1937 I know you gonna miss me Big Joe Male vocal solo, with harmonica and 2 guitars vocalist, composer  
Victor BS-07662 10-in. 5/5/1937 Rootin' ground hog Big Joe Male vocal solo, with harmonica and 2 guitars vocalist, composer  
Victor BS-07663 10-in. 5/5/1937 Brother James Big Joe Male vocal solo, with harmonica and 2 guitars vocalist, composer  
Victor BS-07664 10-in. 5/5/1937 I won't be in hard luck no more Big Joe Male vocal solo, with harmonica and 2 guitars vocalist, composer  
Victor BS-053590 10-in. 10/30/1940 Beer drinking woman Memphis Slim Male vocal solo, with piano and cano composer  
Victor BS-053591 10-in. 10/30/1940 You didn't mean me no good Memphis Slim Male vocal solo, with piano and cano composer  
Victor BS-053592 10-in. 10/30/1940 Grinder man blues Memphis Slim Male vocal solo, with piano and cano composer  
Victor BS-053593 10-in. 10/30/1940 Empty room blues Memphis Slim Male vocal solo, with piano and cano composer  
Victor BS-053594 10-in. 10/30/1940 Shelby County blues Memphis Slim Male vocal solo, with piano and cano composer  
Victor BS-053595 10-in. 10/30/1940 I see my great mistake Memphis Slim Male vocal solo, with piano and cano composer  
Victor BS-053989 10-in. 3/27/1941 Crawlin' king snake Big Joe Williams Male vocal solo, with guitar and imitation string bass instrumentalist, guitar, vocalist, composer  
Victor BS-053990 10-in. 3/27/1941 I'm getting wild about her Big Joe Williams Male vocal solo, with guitar and imitation string bass vocalist, instrumentalist, guitar, composer  
Victor BS-053991 10-in. 3/27/1941 Peach orchard mama Big Joe Williams Male vocal solo, with guitar and imitation string bass vocalist, instrumentalist, guitar, composer  
Victor BS-053992 10-in. 3/27/1941 Meet me around the corner Big Joe Williams Male vocal solo, with guitar and imitation string bass vocalist, instrumentalist, guitar, composer  
Victor BS-070482 10-in. 12/12/1941 Throw a boogie woogie Joe Williams Male vocal solo, with instrumental trio composer, instrumentalist, guitar, vocalist  
Victor BS-070483 10-in. 12/12/1941 North wind blues Joe Williams Male vocal solo, with instrumental trio composer, instrumentalist, guitar, vocalist  
Victor BS-070484 10-in. 12/12/1941 Please don't go Joe Williams Male vocal solo, with instrumental trio vocalist, instrumentalist, guitar, composer  
Victor BS-070485 10-in. 12/12/1941 Highway 49 Joe Williams Male vocal solo, with instrumental trio vocalist, instrumentalist, guitar, composer  
Victor BS-070486 10-in. 12/12/1941 Someday, baby Joe Williams Male vocal solo, with instrumental trio instrumentalist, guitar, composer, vocalist  
Victor BS-070487 10-in. 12/12/1941 Break 'em on down Joe Williams Male vocal solo, with instrumental trio vocalist, instrumentalist, guitar, composer  
Victor D5AB-0354 10-in. 7/12/1945 Drop down blues Joe Williams Male vocal solo, with harmonica, guitar, and drums vocalist, instrumentalist, guitar, composer  
Victor D5AB-0355 10-in. 7/12/1945 Somebody's been worrying Joe Williams Male vocal solo, with harmonica, guitar, and drums composer, instrumentalist, guitar, vocalist  
Victor D5AB-0356 10-in. 7/12/1945 Wanita Joe Williams Male vocal solo, with harmonica, guitar, and drums vocalist, instrumentalist, guitar, composer  
Victor D5AB-0357 10-in. 7/12/1945 Vitamin A Joe Williams Male vocal solo, with harmonica, guitar, and drums composer, instrumentalist, guitar, vocalist  

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Williams, Big Joe," accessed December 2, 2021, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/103396.

Williams, Big Joe. (2021). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved December 2, 2021, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/103396.

"Williams, Big Joe." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2021. Web. 2 December 2021.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

URI: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/103396

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