|Page 2 of 2 <|
Robert Lockwood Jr.; Disciple Of Blues Legend Robert Johnson
"One time, Little Walter got shot," he said. "When they took him to the hospital, the police pried open his fist, and he had three sticks of marijuana. They chained Little Walter to the bed, so I told Leonard Chess what happened.
"He said, 'That [expletive] Walter's gonna give me a heart attack, yet.' I told him, 'I don't know about that, but I do know that he made you a millionaire, so what you gonna do?' Chess called out there, and they took the chains off of Little Walter, just like that."
An old friend, harmonica player Sonny Boy Williamson II (also called "Rice" Miller), lured him to Cleveland in 1960. He stayed, figuring he had less competition than in Chicago.
He worked as a chauffeur and nightclub manager and made an impressive guitar-piano duet with Otis Spann, who had been Muddy Waters's pianist. Their "Otis Spann Is the Blues" (1960) featured a rollicking version of what became Mr. Lockwood's unofficial theme song, "Little Boy Blue."
Mr. Lockwood began his solo career in the 1970s, and his records combined fierce Delta-style picking with horn-backed swing blues. The Rounder label paired him with fellow Johnson disciple Johnny Shines on the albums "Hangin' On" (1979) and "Mr. Blues Is Back to Stay" (1980).
His 1998 release "I've Got to Find Me a Woman," including a guitar duet with B.B. King, received a Grammy Award nomination for traditional blues album. "Delta Crossroads" (2000), released on the Telarc label, received a second nomination.
Mr. Lockwood received two W.C. Handy Awards, the highest honor in blues music. Then-first lady Hillary Clinton presented him in 1995 with the National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship award.
Until his health failed in recent weeks, he performed weekly at a Cleveland club. With a typically profane flourish, he once told a reporter that the secret to his vitality was buying meat from the Amish.
"People are putting that dumb [expletive] in the food to make the [expletive] cows grow," he said. "That's why you see so many tall children. You buy that [expletive] in the stores? It's bad news. I'm sorry."
His first wife, Annie Roberts Lockwood, died in 1997. Survivors include his wife, Mary Smith Lockwood of Cleveland; four stepchildren from the first marriage; and four stepchildren from the second marriage.