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 (Results 26-43 of 43 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
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  
(Results 26-43 of 43 records)

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Williams, Big Joe," accessed December 5, 2021, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/103396.

Williams, Big Joe. (2021). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved December 5, 2021, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/103396.

"Williams, Big Joe." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2021. Web. 5 December 2021.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

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

Feedback

Send the Editors a message about this record.