Monday, July 07, 2008

A bluesman you probably don't know: Hip Linkchain

Tragedy is part and parcel of the blues, of life and everything really. And I have said it many times, you have to live the blues to play the blues, consider one Hip Linkchain.

Cancer took, the guitarist and song writer, Hip Linkchain's life before he got to be big on the blues scene, that is why I say "you probably don't know" him. His best album Airbusters was released before he passed away in 1989. It might have made all the difference, and brought him fame and fortune. But that was not to be.

He was born in Mississippi, like many other bluesmen, named Willie Richard at birth, he got his odd stage name because the white residents of the area called his seven-foot-tall dad, Linkchain. His dad got that name because he wore logging chains around his neck. The son was called "Hipstick" which led to Hip Linkchain. He learned to play the blues from his father and brother. During his time in the Delta he got to hear Elmore James, Little Milton, and Sonny Boy Williamson before he made that migration up to Chicago in the early 1950s.

During the 1950s and 1960s he played with harpists Dusty Brown, Willie Foster, and Lester Davenport, trying to make a name for himself in Chicago. In 1959 he played with Tyrone Davis in a band called the Chicago Twisters. Around 1981 he debuted with his album Change My Blues.

Hip Linkchain Airbusters

Airbusters was released by Black Magic records in the late 1980's, and for my money is his best album. There were two recording sessions using two different bands, but still it is a very good showing all told. I think this album shows all of Hip Linkchain's talents, his singing, guitar work and his song writing are all on showcase here. The songs are executed with a craft that blues fans will appreciate and because most of the songs are Hip Linkchain originals, you may hear some blues that you never heard before.

Like many bluesmen, Hip Linkchain never got the recognition that his talents would have brought him if he had lived. But I think that we blues fans of today can do much to keep his memory alive.

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