The blues has been a constant for most of my life thanks to the British blues boom which spawned the Rolling Stones. That they have just released a blues album – a swansong? – is testament to the genre. But how did they get their name?
Robert Petway was an African-American blues singer and guitarist whose most influential song was Catfish Blues, which he recorded in 1941.
Muddy Waters used the lyrics and style of the song for his first single Rollin’ Stone, the song from which gave the British blues group their name.
Petway recorded 16 songs in 1941 and ’42, but only 14 were released. After that, he essentially vanished, and no records of his life, birth, or death have ever been found – though several, including Jason Rewald have looked.
Petway’s birth place is speculated to have been at or near J.F. Sligh Farm near Yazoo City, Mississippi, the birth place of his close friend and fellow bluesman Tommy McClennan. His birth date is guessed at 1908, and the date and even the occurrence of his death is unknown.
(These were tracks originally released on 78 rpm discs.)
rec. March 28, 1941 in Chicago, Ill.
Robert Petway, vocal, guitar; prob. Alfred Elkins, bass
1A. Let Me Be Your Boss (059480-1)
1B. Rockin’ Chair Blues (059478-1)
2A. Sleepy Woman Blues (059482-1)
2B. Don’t Go Down Baby (059483-1)
3A. Left My Baby Crying (059481-1)
3B. My Little Girl (059479-1)
4A. Catfish Blues (059476-1)
4B. Ride ‘Em On Down (059477-1)
rec. February 20, 1942, Chicago., Ill.
Robert Petway, vocal, guitar; Alfred Elkins, bass; poss. Tommy McClennan, vocal, sp *
5A. Boogie Woogie Woman (074111-1) *
5B. Hollow Log Blues (0074112-1)
6A. In The Evening (074113-1)
6B. Bertha Lee Blues (074108-1)
7A. My Baby Left Me (074114-1)
7B. Cotton Pickin’ Blues (074115-1)
– Hard Working Woman (074109-1)
– Ar’nt Nobody’s Fool (074110-1)
and with the Rolling Stones…