empowering artistsearwig storeour mission
quote1-upper

The box set Cadillac Baby's Bea & Baby Records: The Definitive Collection brings to light...

Cadillac Baby's Bea & Baby Records - Downbeat 2019 Holiday Gift Guide

Downbeat Magazine

Read more herequote2-lower
quote1-upper

Anyone who's looking to advance their career would be very well served to have Michael...

Sari Schorr

New York songwriter/bandleader/singer

Read more herequote2-lower
quote1-upper

Michael is a 21st century renaissance man who has both the business acumen and the...

Don Wilcock

Freelance Music Writer

Read more herequote2-lower

Henry Townsend

October 27, 1909 – September 24, 2006

Influenced by Roosevelt Sykes and Lonnie Johnson, Henry Townsend was a commanding musician, adept on both piano and guitar. During the 1920s and 1930s, Townsend was one of the musicians who helped make St. Louis one of the blues centers of America.

Townsend arrived in St. Louis when he was around ten years old, just before the 1920s began. By the end of the decade, he had landed a record contract with Columbia, cutting several sides of open-tuning slide guitar for the label. Two years later, he made some similar recordings for Paramount. During this time, Townsend began playing the piano, learning the instrument by playing along with Roosevelt Sykes records. Within a few years, he was able to perform concerts with pianists like Walter Davis and Henry Brown.

During the 1930s, Townsend was a popular session musician, performing with many of the era’s most popular artists. By the late 1930s, he had cut several tracks for Bluebird. Those were among the last recordings he ever made as a leader. During the 1940s and 1950s, Townsend continued to perform and record as a session musician, but he never made any solo records.

In 1960, he led a few sessions, but they didn’t receive much attention. Toward the end of the 1960s, Townsend became a staple on the blues and folk festivals in America, which led to a comeback. He cut a number of albums for Adelphi and he played shows throughout America. By the end of the 1970s, he had switched from Adelphi to Nighthawk Records.

Townsend had become an elder statesmen of St. Louis blues by the early 1980s, recording albums for Wolf and Swingmaster and playing a handful of shows every year. That’s the Way I Do It, a documentary about Townsend, appeared on public television in 1984. During the late 1980s, Townsend was nearly retired, but he continued to play the occasional concert until his death in 2006.

Townsend had become an elder statesmen of St. Louis blues by the early ’80s, recording albums for Wolf and Swingmaster and playing a handful of shows every year. That’s the Way I Do It, a documentary about Townsend, appeared on public television in 1984. During the late ’80s, Townsendwas nearly retired, but he continued to play the occasional concert until his death in 2006.

Artist biography by Cub Koda, Allmusic.com

Photo courtesy of Weenie Campbell