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"Honeyboy" Moves On to Blues Heaven

August 31, 2011 - Phyllis Sigal
The blues world lost another legend earlier this week when David "Honeyboy" Edwards died at the age of 96.

He was slated to play the Heritage Music BluesFest this year — finally — after trying to get him for a couple of years. But a couple of weeks before the festival, he canceled, citing health reasons.

My husband Bruce Wheeler, who chooses the acts each year for the festival, was bringing "Honeyboy" in for me, he said.

We met him a few years ago at the Blue and White Restaurant on HIghway 61, just south of Tunica, Miss.

It was the morning after the Blues Music Awards, and for some reason, lots of blues people congregated at the restaurant for the best biscuits ever and the $1 endless cup of coffee.

When we walked in to the restaurant, already there having breakfast were Willie "Big Eyes" Smith, Bob Stoger and "Honeyboy." In walked "Pinetop" Perkins, another blues legend, who died in March of this year.

"Honeyboy" — who was born in 1915 — said he remembered when the Blue and White Restaurant was built back in 1924.

A Delta bluesman — the last of the great Mississippi Delta bluesmen — he played with the best of the blues legends.

In 2010, he won a Grammy for Lifetime Achievement; in 2009, he received the Grammy for Best Traditional Blues Album; and was the winner of several Blues Music Awards.

What a sweetheart of a guy he was that day, and I'd been hoping since then he could've played BluesFest. I just wanted a chance to talk with him again.

His manager, however, announced his retirement on July 17.

According to Honeyboy's website, "This morning Monday August 29, 2011, about 3 a.m. while resting peacefully at home, Honeyboy moved on to blues heaven. He lived a long, full life, and he felt at peace. He loved to say, 'The world don’t owe me nothing.' Just shy of his 96th birthday, Honeyboy played his last gigs at the Juke Joint Festival and Cathead Mini-Festival in Clarksdale, Mississippi, April 16 and 17, 2011. Prior to his health turning for the worse in late April, Honeyboy was scheduled to play numerous gigs in Chicago, across the USA and in Europe. ... He maintained a strong spirit until the end, telling stories and showing off his dexterity in his hands."

A humble man, his contract requested nothing higher than a two-star hotel, and preferably a motel. Anything fancier made him uncomfortable, he said. Like I said, what a sweetheart.

Rest in peace, Honeyboy. Rest in peace.


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David Honeyboy Edwards 1915-2011


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