Taking a peek back into early blues can really bring blues musicians to the surface. Just by listening to them you can hear the beginnings of what almost all blues songs still have today. They are made of chords that belong to heartache and struggle. Their vocals slowly rip into your soul.
No musician sang songs of heartache and pain more deeply than Leadbelly. In fact his songs made such an impact in the music scene that numerous musicians have remade his songs. Leadbelly was the original maker of popular hits like Black Betty, Aint it a Shame, House of the Rising Sun and On a Monday.
The interesting part about his songs is that when his songs were rereleased by other musical talents, they were considered originals. Take for instance On a Monday, Johnny Cash remade this song and not only was it seen as a Johnny Cash original, it was also seen as one his many prison based songs that had been part of his image. Leadbelly was blues music, he made one hit song after another.
Leadbelly grew up in a time when men of color didn’t always receive the recognition that they should have. He also spent a great deal of his time behind bars, charged with murder in Dallas Texas and again charged for a fight that ensued after being released by a pardon where he was sent to Angola prison in 1930. Despite all of these challenges, he became famous and respected for his musical impact. He in fact was eventually inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988, sadly he never received the knowledge or pride that came with that moment as it was 39 years after his death.