Frank Edwards

Venerable bluesman known as 'Mister Cleanhead'
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Frank Edwards, blues singer, guitarist and harmonica-player: born Washington, Georgia 20 March 1909; married (one daughter); died Greenville, South Carolina 22 March 2002.

There's an old legend about venerable performers dying while singing and the Georgia blues musician Frank Edwards almost accomplished it. He was on his way home from a seven-song recording session when he suffered a heart attack, and died on the way to hospital.

Although he had been playing and singing ever since he was nine years old, the session would have produced only his second full-length release, though he had recorded some singles for the OKeh label in 1941 and for Regal in 1949. After being discovered by the blues researcher Pete Lowry in 1972, he recorded Done Some Travelin' for the Trix label, songs that introduced him to the blues-loving cognoscenti.

In addition to blues standards, he also included a number of originals, including a passionate spiritual, "I Know He Shed the Blood". This album was re-released on CD in 1993. The OKeh sessions were issued on an album, Country Blues Collector's Items, on the Document label, and the Regal titles with Curly Weaver on a Biograph anthology, Sugar Mama Blues (1980).

Frank Edwards was born in 1909 in Washington, Florida. After leaving home in 1923 following a disagreement with his father, he was taught guitar by Tampa Red and also took up harmonica. He was also influenced by the Mississippi bluesman Tommy McClennan, who got him his first recording session.

He worked in a flour-mill in Knoxville, Tennessee in the Twenties. Thenceforth, though he also worked as a carpenter, painter and plumber, he mainly lived off his music, playing in the streets of Atlanta, Georgia, and at barbecues and fish fries.

He was noted as a smart dresser, and was known respectfully by his local fans as "Mister Frank", though his musical associates tended to call him "Mister Cleanhead", on account of his bald pate.

Karl Dallas