Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Mysterious Death of Blind Lemon Jefferson

Blind Lemon Jefferson was the best selling early black blues singer in the US, where he recorded over a hundred titles for the Paramount label between 1926 and his untimely death in 1929.

To this day, little is known about his life, and his death remains a mystery.

Here is one version of how he died:

Lemon died shortly after meeting with his record company in Chicago, where they paid him some cash royalty money. I believe Lemon's own guide robbed him as he led Lemon back to the train station. Since Lemon was nearly totally blind, I bet the guide was able to take Lemon past the regular waiting area, to a more remote location near the tracks and robbed him. Poor Lemon was found the next day, in the snow by the tracks--many think that he had a heart attack.

And a few other possibilities:

His death certificate said he died "probably (from) acute myocarditis"

Some say he froze to death on the streets of Chicago.

Some have said that Jefferson died from a heart attack after being attacked by a dog in the middle of the night.

Jefferson was buried at Wortham Negro Cemetery (later Wortham Black Cemetery). Far from his grave being kept clean, it was unmarked until 1967, when a Texas Historical Marker was erected in the general area of his plot, the precise location being unknown. By 1996, the cemetery and marker were in poor condition, but a new granite headstone was erected in 1997. In 2007, the cemetery's name was changed to Blind Lemon Memorial Cemetery and his gravesite is kept clean by a cemetery committee in Wortham, Texas.

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