Junior Kimbrough receives highest honor in blues music
Published 7:01 pm Wednesday, May 17, 2023
North MS blues legend inducted into Hall of Fame
North Mississippi blues legend David “Junior” Kimbrough was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame at the 44th Annual Blues Music Awards, which took place at Renasant Convention Center in Memphis on May 11.
The ceremony was one of the highlights of the Memphis-based non-profit organization, The Blues Foundation’s Blues Music Week.
Junior’s sons Kinney and Robert of Holly Springs, MS were on hand to receive the honor, in the form of a prestigious plaque displaying their father’s name.
Junior played his unique, hypnotic, guitar-driven style of “cotton patch” blues numerous times in Panola County, before his passing in 1998 at age 67. He also had a night club in Chulahoma, near Holly Springs, which attracted droves of music lovers, as well as local college students seeking the authentic juke joint experience.
Junior’s Place was also visited by international blues tourists – and famous rock stars, like Bono from prominent Irish rock group U2, and “Godfather of Punk” rock, Iggy Pop.
Although fame came knocking on Junior’s door throughout his career, he opted for family life, and always played mainly for his own personal enjoyment.
Junior’s recognition has grown since his passing, with a surge of popularity brought on by tribute albums made by rock band The Black Keys, who used his music as a launchpad early in their hugely successful career.
Kinney Kimbrough unveiled the shiny plaque honoring his father to a lively audience at a weekend show in Water Valley with Oxford singer-songwriter/guitarist Davis Coen, at the new music venue Voyager’s Rest.
Some of Junior’s classic songs include “All Night Long,” “You Better Run,” and “Keep Your Hands Off Her,” and his music has reached a more vast audience through placement in commercials and movies.
Rolling Stone Magazine once rated Junior Kimbrough & The Soul Blues Boys’ “All Night Long” album, which features Kinney’s distinctive drums, as one of the top-100 recordings of all time.
Despite ever-growing posthumous success, and that which occurred in his lifetime (which Apple’s iOS virtual assistant values at $66M), Junior joins a long list of blues musicians who got duped by their record companies into making unfair agreements.
A decades-old contract signed with his record label, containing legal-speak that Junior barely comprehended, has left the family in an ongoing and painstaking struggle to reap the benefits of their patriarch’s life’s work.
Junior’s induction into the Hall of Fame, the pinnacle achievement in the blues music field, was a refreshing and long-awaited acknowledgement of his sons’ roles as the bearers of the legacy, despite other non-relatives continuing to profit from the success of his many classic recordings.