Posts Tagged ‘Henry Sloan’

Henry Sloan (b. January 1870 – 1948) was an African American musician, one of the earliest figures in the history of Delta Blues.

In a sense Henry Sloan may be regarded as one of the founding fathers of the blues yet he was never recorded, and thus his music will now never be heard. Some blues researchers believe that Henry Sloan may have been playing a form of primitive blues by the beginning of the 20th century.

A part time musician, Sloan was probably at least twenty years older than Patton, and he took him under his wing, teaching him the rudiments of the blues guitar. They even played together for a while until Charley Patton went on the road in search of a wider audience. Some reports indicate that Sloan also left the plantation, possibly moving to Chicago after WWI, although this cannot be confirmed.  Further reports state that he moved to Baton Rouge, La. and not Chicago, and a 1920 census from Arkansas shows a Henry Sloan born in 1870 was living in West Memphis, Arkansas w/ a wife from Mississippi and 2 children born around 1910.  In 1930 he was still living in the West Memphis area, and apparently died in March 13th, 1948 in West Memphis, Tenn.

There are no recordings of him.

He moved to the Dockery Plantation near Indianola about the same time as the Pattons, between 1901 and 1904. Patton received some direct instruction from Sloan, and played with him for several years.

There is a theory that the guitar player that W.C. Handy saw on the train platform in Tutweiler, Miss. was in fact Henry Sloan.  However, I haven’t seen any evidence that supports this theory.  It is pure conjecture.

Two of Patton’s later accompanists, Tommy Johnson and Son House, both stated that Patton “dogged every step” of Sloan’s

The blog “Ghost of Henry Sloan” has a great deal of information and they have done some great research to support all of this, and have more information, and scanned census records to suport the theories on the site as well:

http://ghostofhenrysloan.blogspot.com/2009/02/unraveling-mystery-of-henry-sloan.html