A Strong Singer with A Dark Voice
There isn’t a lot of information on Bessie Tucker. This great Blues performer was born in Rusk, Texas, and raised in the Greenville area. Little is known of Tucker outside of her recording career. She was a traditional early blues singer who sang in the style of early Texas blues. She recorded a total of 24 tracks. 7 of those tracks were alternate takes, and one track, “Pick on Me Blues” remains lost. Two of her most known tracks are “Penitentiary” and “Fryin’ Pan Skillet Blues”.
Bessie Tucker and Memphis Recording
In 1928 Bessie traveled to Memphis, Tennesee to record for the Victor Label. She recorded a handful of songs she had written herself. Accompanied by Dallas Piano player K.D. Johnson, she recorded a song that some say she had personal experience with, a song simply called “Penitentiary”. Although there are no recorded records of Tucker spending time in prison, hence the lyrics of her songs make it hard to imagine that this was not the case.
The year of 1929 yielded another valuable recording session, and furthermore, K.D. Johnson accompanied her again, but this time with the help of guitarist Jesse Thomas. In addition to piano, on one of her Memphis recording dates in August of 1929 she employed the accompaniment of an unidentified Tuba player. Consequently, this would be Bessie Tucker’s last recording session. As a result of these great recordings, this early American blues singer definitely left her mark on the Memphis blues scene with her songs of the East Texas railroad, love, and the pen.
Nothing else is documented of her life after her 1929 recording session in Memphis, and furthermore, there is only one known photograph of the great singer. Sources speculate that she passed away in Dallas in 1933, perhaps only about 27 years old. Therefore, we can only hope that perhaps one day someone will uncover some information on Tucker, and shed some light on the life that she lived.
Complete Recorded Works In Chronological Order, 1928-1929
(Last Updated On: January 2, 2017)Complete Recorded Works In Chronological Order, 1928-1929 was last modified: January 2nd, 2017 by jugband
January 2, 2017