Born: November 12, 1909, Houston, Mississippi*
Died: February 26, 1977, Memphis Tennessee
Also known as: Booker T. Washington White
Bukka White moved to the Mississippi Delta as an adolescent and was
influenced by Charley Patton — as a
result he played a particularly pure form of Delta blues. White's
devotion to the music was considerable; after a run-in with the law in
Mississippi in 1937, he jumped bail in order to record in Chicago. He
was apprehended and incarcerated at Mississippi's Parchman Farm, where
he was popular as an entertainer, and where his gift for songwriting
wasn't hampered — like many of his originals, the song "Parchman Farm
Blues" became a classic. White's real taste of fame came after Bob Dylan
recorded White's original song "Fixin' to Die Blues" in the early 1960s.
Curious about the song's original author, two young blues players found
White by sending a general delivery letter to Aberdeen, Mississippi
(tipped off by his blues song of the same title). These leaps in
visibility led to White's fame in later life, as both a performer and a
storyteller, as he embodied both the Delta blues and its rich history.
Essential Listening: "Shake 'Em on Down," "The Panama Limited,"
"Aberdeen Mississippi Blues," "Fixin' to Die Blues," "Parchman Farm