Robert Lockwood Jr., a pioneering Mississippi Delta blues guitarist and singer, has died. He was 91. Lockwood died yesterday (Nov. 21) of respiratory failure at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland. Hospital spokesman George Stamatis said Lockwood had been a patient since suffering a stroke on Nov. 3.
Lockwood was born in 1915 in Turkey Scratch, Ark. At age 11, he started guitar lessons with legendary bluesman Robert Johnson, who briefly moved in with Lockwood's mother. "He never showed me nothing two times," Lockwood said in a 2005 interview with the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Lockwood worked on street corners and in bars and became a musical mentor to B.B. King, who listened to Lockwood in the 1940s on the "King Biscuit Time" radio show broadcast from Helena, Ark.
Lockwood moved to Chicago in the 1950s and was a session player on records by Little Walter, Sunnyland Slim, Roosevelt Sykes and other blues musicians. He branched out from the Delta-style blues to jump blues, jazz and funk, recording for great independent blues labels such as Delmark, Trix and Rounder. In 1960, he moved to Cleveland, and played in blues clubs for decades.
As a solo performer, Lockwood earned Grammy nominations for two albums: 1998's "I Got To Find Me a Woman" and 2000's "Delta Crossroads."