Robert Lockwood Jr.
Born: March 27, 1954, Turkey Scratch, Arkansas
Died: November 21, 2006
Photo credit: Vivian Heyl – firstname.lastname@example.org
Best known for his association with the King of the Delta Blues Singers and Robert Johnson, Robert Jr. Lockwood, spent most of his long career working as a sideman with numerous blues greats, including Sonny Boy Williamson and Little Walter. He remained rooted in the Delta blues tradition, while developing a sophisticated jazz-influenced style. At the age of eight, Lockwood began playing his grandfather’s pump organ. He switched to guitar when blues guitar player Robert Johnson moved in with his mother. Lockwood recalled, “Robert was my teacher. He never taught nobody else.” After apprenticing with Johnson, Lockwood traveled across the South and Midwest, playing fish frys, street corners, and juke joints with fellow blues musician Sonny Boy Williamson. In 1941, Lockwood recorded with Doctor Clayton, a popular blues vocalist. Then he recorded four record sides under his own name. That fall, he joined Sonny Boy Williamson on the popular radio program King Biscuit Time on KFFA in Helena, Arkansas. After hearing the KFFA broadcasts in Memphis, a young bluesman B.B. King sought out Lockwood for guitar lessons. Lockwood moved to Chicago in 1950 and quickly became an in-demand sideman, recording with Little Walter, Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson, Willie Dixon, and Otis Spann. Lockwood’s fluid jazz guitar style helped define the electric “jump style” of Chicago blues. He moved to Cleveland, Ohio, in 1960 with Sonny Boy Williamson. While maintaining his base in Cleveland, Lockwood recorded as a leader for a number of record labels and toured nationally.