Posts Tagged ‘alger texas alexander’
Alger “Texas” Alexander (September 12, 1900 – April 16, 1954) was a blues singer from Jewett, Texas
Alexander started his career performing on the streets and at local parties and picnics in the Brazos River bottomlands (on the Texas Gulf Coast), where he sometimes worked with Blind Lemon Jefferson. In 1927 he began a recording career that continued into the 1930s, recording sides for the Okeh and Vocalion labels in New York, San Antonio, and Fort Worth. In November 1928, Alexander recorded what is believed to be the earliest version of “The House of the Rising Sun.” Other songs he recorded include “Mama’s Bad Luck Child,” “Sittin’ on a Log,” “Texas Special,” “Broken Yo Yo” and “Don’t You Wish Your Baby was Built Up Like Mine?”.
Alexander did not play an instrument himself, and over the years, starting in 1927, he worked with a number of other musicians including jazz legends King Oliver, Eddie Lang, Lonnie Johnson, Little Hat Jones, Eddie Lang, the Mississippi Sheiks, and his cousin, Lightnin’ Hopkins. He continued to record until 1929 and then after a five year break made a number of recordings in 1934. He didn’t record again until 1947. During the Depression and afterwards Hopkins and Alexander often resorted to working as street musicians or outside of music altogether. In the late 1930s he worked with Lowell Fulson and Howlin’ Wolf among others. In 1939 Alexander murdered his wife and was sentenced to prison from 1940 to 1945. When he got out of prison he hit the streets again with Lightnin’ Hopkins and the pair recorded in 1947 on the Aladdin label. Texas Alexander made his last recording in 1950 with Benton’s Busy Bees and died of syphilis in 1954.
Alexander’s body is buried in Longstreet Cemetery, Grimes County, Texas.
He sang in the free rhythm of work songs, such as the migrant cotton pickers he performed for might have sung, which posed a challenge for those accompanying him. Indeed, his singing is difficult to follow, and on his gramophone records his accompanists can often be heard resetting their watches to Alexander Time. His finest collaborator was Lonnie Johnson, who devised free-form guitar melodies in counterpoint to the vocal lines.
It was said that “their was no bluesman rawer or more primitive than Alexander…whose bellow was only a step or two removed from a field holler or worksing.”