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R. Crumb's Heroes of the Blues
September 30, 2011 6:41 AM   Subscribe

In the 1980s, R. Crumb produced a set of trading cards called The Heroes of the Blues.

William Moore -- Raggin' the Blues

Peg Leg Howell -- New Jelly Roll Blues

Clifford Gibson -- Blues Without a Dime

Blind Blake -- West Coast Blues

Frank Stokes -- I Got Mine

Jaybird Coleman -- I'm Gonna Cross The River of Jordan Some O' These Days

Blind Willie Johnson -- Dark Was the Night

Leroy Carr & Scrapper Blackwell -- When The Sun Goes Down

Blind Lemon Jefferson -- See That My Grave Is Kept Clean

Curley Weaver & Fred McMullen -- Wild Cat Kitten

Whistler & His Jug Band -- Foldin' Bed

The Mississippi Sheiks -- He Calls That Religion

Rube Lacey -- Mississippi Jailhouse Groan

Skip James -- Hard Time Killin' Floor Blues

Bo-Weavil Jackson -- I'm On My Way To The Kingdom Land

Furry Lewis -- Judge Harsh Blues

Sam Collins -- My Road is Rough and Rocky

Ramblin' Thomas
-- No Job Blues

Sleepy John Estes -- Someday Baby Blues

Cannon's Jug Stompers -- Minglewood Blues

Memphis Jug Band -- Coal Oil Blues

Big Bill Broonzy -- Worried Man Blues, Hey Hey, How You Want it Done

Roosevelt Sykes -- .44 Blues

Blind Gary Davis -- Death Don't Have No Mercy

Papa Charlie Jackson -- I'm Alabama Bound

Charley Patton -- High Water Everywhere, Part 1 & High Water Everywhere, Part 2

Buddy Boy Hawkins -- Awful Fix Blues

Barbeque Bob -- Mississippi Heavy Water Blues

Ed Bell -- Leaving Train Blues

Blind Willie McTell -- Broke Down Engine

Son House -- Death Letter Blues

Memphis Minnie -- If You See My Rooster (Please Run Him Home)

Mississippi John Hurt -- Stack O' Lee Blues

Tommy Johnson -- Cool Drink of Water Blues

Peetie Wheatstraw -- Four O'Clock in the Morning

Bo Carter -- My Baby
posted by OmieWise (36 comments total) 44 users marked this as a favorite

 
Several of these artists have had great posts on Metafilter before, so if you like what you hear you should give them a search.
posted by OmieWise at 6:42 AM on September 30, 2011


The set is still in print, here and there.
posted by Capt. Renault at 6:44 AM on September 30, 2011


Awesome way to revisit these cards! Nice work!
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 6:45 AM on September 30, 2011


I love Crumb. I love Bukowski.

Imagine my surprise to find Crumb illustrated some Bukowski I'd never heard of.

The Crumb documentary was one of the most amazing and depressing films ever made.

These cards are pretty cool.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:47 AM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


The cards would have made a fine FPP by themselves, but the music really puts it over the top.

Every note of rock music you have ever heard traces its ancestry back to Charley Patton.
posted by Trurl at 6:51 AM on September 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Nicely done OmieWise! Great post. I've had the card set for years, but there are still a few artists that I never got around to hearing. Thanks.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 7:02 AM on September 30, 2011


The cards would have made a fine FPP by themselves, but the music really puts it over the top.

Took the words right outta my mouth, Truri. Great post, OmieWise!

I've long wanted this set. I've got Crumb's Heroes of Early Country card set, which is great, but the blues set features, of course, more soloists, as opposed to bands, and, well, it's the blues, so I've been wanting to OWN it for a long time now! And now here it is online, and I'm delighted. I love Crumb and I love Delta/prewar blues, so it's a double treat!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:04 AM on September 30, 2011


He did a country set and a jazz one as well. I had my local trading card shop order them way back when.
posted by jonmc at 7:07 AM on September 30, 2011


This is why I need to with the lottery - so that my man-in-waiting can be sent out to gather all these recordings immediately.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:11 AM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Crumb did a longer biography about Charlie Patton in Zap Comix #11.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 7:18 AM on September 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


yes it's still in print - I have them. Bought em about 5 years ago. they are friggin awesome.
posted by spicynuts at 7:27 AM on September 30, 2011


Be sure not to miss the 1977 Peetie Wheatstraw biopic.*

*sorry
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:32 AM on September 30, 2011


Where's Blues Hammer?
posted by NoMich at 7:52 AM on September 30, 2011


If you like the music and drawings they were re-released in book form recently. It comes with a great disc of music by the musicians depicted.
posted by JBennett at 7:59 AM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just, just,...awesome. I forgot about gems, and pairing them with performances is genius.
posted by Mental Wimp at 8:07 AM on September 30, 2011


I misread this as "Heroes of the Blue" and am kinda disappointed. Was looking forward to trading three The Whelks for a Miko rookie card.
posted by maryr at 8:12 AM on September 30, 2011 [6 favorites]


Really cool, thanks for posting. The songs are amazing. I thought Crumb/Bukowski should have included the brilliant Geeshie Wiley. Her Last Kind Word Blues, from 1930.
posted by Nibbly Fang at 8:24 AM on September 30, 2011


As far as I know Bukowski had nothing to do with these drawings. I think for another project Crumb illustrated Bukowski.

If you like Geeshie Wiley, I'd really recommend American Primitive: Pre-War Revenants, Vol. II, from John Fahey's final label, Revenant Records. Wiley shows up several times. The first volume, which is more gospel, is also excellent.
posted by OmieWise at 8:41 AM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have the book of this, and the CD that goes with it. It's brilliant.

Did he ever finish his version of The Bible?
posted by Artw at 9:15 AM on September 30, 2011


Fantastic post! I just ordered the book from from Amazon. For those who are enjoying this post, don't forget R. Crumb Draws the Blues". A great comic drawn history for fans...long been a favorite of mine.
posted by txmon at 9:16 AM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Did he ever finish his version of The Bible?

The Book of Genesis?
Yep.
I don't recall if he had a notion to continue on to further portions of the Bible. I believe he was just going to adapt The Book of Genesis.
Previously.
Also Previously.
posted by lilnemo at 10:48 AM on September 30, 2011


Ah. I think i went wrong assuming he was doing more of it.

"The Religious Experience of Philip K. Dick" is pretty awesome too.
posted by Artw at 11:03 AM on September 30, 2011


Oh god, Son House "Death Letter"...
Words fail.

No matter how many times I hear this song, it just floors me. I actually like the lyric he uses for some of the verses here (in the YT link above) better than the standard audio recording.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 11:07 AM on September 30, 2011


I used to have the whole set but then Keith Richards stole them from me.
posted by hal9k at 11:10 AM on September 30, 2011


My most prized possession is a full set of these--and the Country and Jazz cards--with the packaging signed by Crumb. I must admit I was ecstatic when I first watched Crumb and saw the scene in the shop where he shows his reluctance to autograph things, because I assume it makes my set that much more rare.

Great post!
posted by broadway bill at 11:28 AM on September 30, 2011


No Bessie Smith? Disappointed.
posted by Lou Stuells at 11:31 AM on September 30, 2011


I thought Crumb/Bukowski should have included the brilliant Geeshie Wiley. Her Last Kind Word Blues , from 1930.

That song is in a league of its own: it was so incredibly inventive, structurally and harmonically. Love the lyrics, too: "what you do to me, baby, it never gets out of me"... amazing. I perform it from time to time.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:11 PM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


R. Crumb for president! Ok, it would be kind of wierd, but the WH press briefings would be more entertaining.
posted by sneebler at 5:51 PM on September 30, 2011



Why were there so many "Blind -- --" blues players? How did they become blind, or were they born blind?
posted by emhutchinson at 6:14 PM on September 30, 2011


Why were there so many "Blind -- --" blues players?

This question was asked in a previous blues thread here at MeFi, and was answered by y2karl. Can't find the thread or exact comment right now, but it's basically because being a musician was one of the very few possibilities for employment if you were a blind black man in 1920s/30s America.

How did they become blind, or were they born blind?

The reasons for blindness among those musicians was, I'd assume (and from various biographies that I've read over the years) were as varied as they are among the general population of blind people.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:20 PM on September 30, 2011


Please mentally delete the word "was" from the sentence directly above. Thank you.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:37 PM on September 30, 2011


Years ago I worked for a guy who bought most (or at least many) of the original art pieces of these cards. A few had been held back by Crumb, if I recall correctly, and a few more by the guy who sold them to my boss. This was in 1995, I believe. So the deal was negotiated, and the pieces were sent. They were mostly framed together, if memory serves, in groups of twos or threes, and crated. I had the crates opened by a guy with a drill, then delivered the cardboard-wrapped frames to the house, then unwrapped them one by one. I wasn't really into Crumb, or the blues, but those pieces were just so beautiful. I spent a lot of time looking at them, then and later when my boss had them hung throughout his home. Really, really gorgeous work.
posted by BlahLaLa at 6:37 PM on September 30, 2011


Also masturbation.
posted by Artw at 6:42 PM on September 30, 2011


As far as I know Bukowski had nothing to do with these drawings. I think for another project Crumb illustrated Bukowski.

Yeah, sorry for the confusion. I'd only seen Crumb in isolation until I read the Bukowski graphic novels. I also watched the Crumb documentary. That's my experience with him. I was just saying I thought these cards were cool, but then so is most everything Crumb does.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:49 PM on September 30, 2011


This is a fantastic post. A real education in the blues, and amazing Crumb illos. Nicely done, sir.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 8:18 PM on September 30, 2011


I created a Spotify playlist based on this post. It goes well with strong coffee, burnt bacon, and eggs. Some of the songs listed above weren't available so I substituted based on nothing in particular. I hope I didn't miss anything.

Great post, OmieWise!
posted by JT at 8:05 AM on October 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


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