Today is The Birthday of Charlie Patton kown as "Charley Patton" considered the father of Delta Blues.
"Charley Patton (May 1, 1891 – April 28, 1934) is best known as an American Delta blues musician. He is considered by many to be the "Father of Delta Blues" and therefore one of the oldest known figures of American popular music. He is credited with creating an enduring body of American music and personally inspiring just about every Delta blues man (Palmer, 1995). Musicologist Robert Palmer considers him among the most important musicians that America produced in the twentieth century. Many sources, including musical releases and his gravestone, spell his name “Charley” even though the musician himself spelled his name "Charlie."Charlie Patton was one of the first mainstream stars of the Delta blues genre. Patton, who was born in Hinds County, Mississippi near Edwards, lived most of his life in Sunflower County, in the Mississippi Delta. Most sources say he was born in 1891, but there is some debate about this, and the years 1887 and 1894 have also been suggested. In 1900, his family moved 100 miles north to the legendary 10,000-acre Dockery Plantation sawmill and cotton farm near Ruleville, Mississippi. It was here that both John Lee Hooker and Howlin' Wolf fell under the Patton spell. It was also here that Robert Johnson played and was given his first guitar.
At Dockery, Charlie fell under the tutelage of Henry Sloan, who had a new, unusual style of playing music which today would be considered very early blues. Charlie followed Henry Sloan around, and, by the time he was about 19, had become an accomplished performer and songwriter in his own right, having already composed "Pony Blues," a seminal song of the era.
Robert Palmer describes Patton as a "jack-of all-trades bluesman" who played "deep blues, white hillbilly songs, nineteenth century ballads, and other varieties of black and white country dance music with equal facility".
He was extremely popular across the Southern United States, and — in contrast to the itinerant wandering of most blues musicians of his time — played scheduled engagements at plantations and taverns. Long before Jimi Hendrix impressed audiences with flashy guitar playing, Patton gained notoriety for his showmanship, often playing with the guitar down on his knees, behind his head, or behind his back. Although Patton was a small man at about 5 foot 5 and 135 pounds, his gravelly voice was rumored to have been loud enough to carry 500 yards without amplification. Patton's gritty bellowing was a major influence on the singing style of his young friend Chester Burnett, who went on to gain fame in Chicago as Howlin' Wolf.Patton's ethnicity is the subject of minor debate. Though he was considered African-American, because of his light complexion there have been rumors that he was Mexican, or possibly a full-blood Cherokee, a theory endorsed by Howlin' Wolf. In actuality, Patton was a mix of white, black, and Cherokee (one of his grandmothers was a full-blooded Cherokee). Patton himself sang in "Down the Dirt Road Blues" of having gone to "the Nation" and "the Territo'" -- meaning the Cherokee Nation portion of the Indian Territory (which became part of the state of Oklahoma in 1907), where a number of Black Indians tried unsuccessfully to claim a place on the tribal rolls and thereby obtain land.
Patton settled in Holly Ridge, Mississippi with his common-law wife and recording partner Bertha Lee in 1933. He died on the Heathman-Dedham plantation near Indianola from heart disease on April 28, 1934 and is buried in Holly Ridge (both towns are located in Sunflower County). A memorial headstone was erected on Patton's grave (the location of which was identified by the cemetery caretaker C. Howard who claimed to have been present at the burial) paid for by musician John Fogerty through the Mt. Zion Memorial Fund in July, 1990."