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Robert Plunkett

Robert Plunkett plays drums on Honeyboy Edwards’ Earwig CD 4922,  Delta Bluesman.

Plunkett was born into a large family in Benton, Mississippi.  In the early 1940s, inspired by listening to Rice Miller on the radio and watching him perform at a local drugstore along with Elmore James, he decided he wanted to become a musician.   In 1948 he settled in Chicago with his family, and a few years later tried his hand first at guitar, then harmonica, without much success. Meanwhile he worked a day job, and spent his nights in the clubs, rubbing elbows with musicians active on the Chicago scene in the early 1950s, including Tampa Red, Johnny Jones, Odie Payne, Baby Face Leroy, Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Jimmy Rogers, Howling Wolf and Sunnyland Slim.

His first experience as a performer came about in the mid 1950s, when Little Arthur Duncan’s drummer Leroy Brant let him sit in on drums; soon he was freelancing between bands with many of the other young young players who were just getting their starts in Chicago at the time, including Eddie C. Campbell, Bobby Rush, and Luther Allison. He  doubled as a standup singer, and was always able to find work in the clubs while keeping his day job.

In 1959, Plunkett was recruited by Elmore James’s Broomdusters. Along with Homesick James and J.T. Brown, Plunkett toured extensively with Elmore throughout the midwest and southern states, and played with him periodically for the rest of Elmore’s life.  In the early 1970s, he joined Howlin’ Wolf’s band until Wolf’s death, when he moved back to Mississippi and opened a blues club near Canton, which he ran until 1985.

Moving back to Chicago, he worked with Johnny Littlejohn, and toured with Eddie Shaw’s Wolf Pack, Luther “Guitar Jr.” Johnson, and Jimmy Dawkins. In the 1990s he scaled back his activity and played mostly locally, but stayed busy picking up gigs in Chicago with people such as Taildragger and Rockin’ Johnny.  He continued to play drums after he lost his voice to cancer, which he succumbed to in 2004.

robert-plunkett
Drummer