Blues Legend Louisiana Red Dead at 79

02/28/2012
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(MPM) Tom Ruf, president of Ruf Records, issued the following statement upon hearing of the death over the weekend of legendary bluesman Louisiana Red, who passed away February 25 at a hospital in Germany after a few days in a coma brought on by a thyroid imbalance. He was 79 years old.

"I am very sad about my friend Red leaving us. He was the very first blues artist I got to meet in person and the first blues concert I ever promoted when I was 19. Louisiana Red was one of the last giants in blues that constantly and spontaneously spoke his mind with a new line, a new melody every day. On stage, as well as off stage, he was a permanent spring of pure blues and a very generous man. My thoughts are with his lovely wife Dora, who kept him together the last 30 years, as well as his children and family. If you are a lucky person who owns a record of this blues giant, this is a good time to play it and appreciate the man we just lost."

Louisiana Red's last two CD releases on Ruf Records were Back to the Black Bayou, in 2009, and Memphis Mojo, released September, 2011. Both CDs showcased Louisiana Red in a classic blues atmosphere, backed by producer Little Victor's hand picked band, along with such special guests as Kim Wilson and Bob Corritore on harmonica and Dave Maxwell on piano. Memphis Mojo was recorded in Memphis right after Red was awarded for his achievements as "Acoustic Artist of the Year" at the Blues Music Awards in May, 2010.

Born Iverson Minter in Bessemer, Alabama on March 23, 1932, Louisiana Red had been living in Germany since 1981. His music was strongly influenced by Muddy Waters, Lightnin' Hopkins and Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup. It was blues master Muddy Waters, himself, who picked him up at the Chicago station when Red first arrived in 1950 to record for Chess Records. That night, Muddy took him to the Zanzibar club to hear the Waters' band play, which inspired the song, "At the Zanzibar" on his first Ruf CD.

In a career that spanned six decades, Louisiana Red also recorded for Atlantic, Roulette, Glover and Tomato Records, among many others. In 1983, he won the W.C. Handy (now Blues Music) Award as "Best Traditional Blues Artist," and toured consistently until his recent illness.

"Louisiana Red was a powerful downhome blues artist who could channel his teachers into his own heartfelt musical conversation, delivered with such moving passion and honesty that it would leave his audiences indelibly touched," said musician and friend Bob Corritore upon hearing of Red's passing. "He was a fine singer with a distinctive voice, and an amazing guitarist who could play all of the traditional blues styles and excelled as one of the world's greatest slide guitarists. He could create moods and textures, both musically and spiritually, and had the ability of falling so deep into his own songs that he would go to tears, making his audience cry with him. That was the gift of this great artist."

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