DAVID 'HONEYBOY' EDWARDS, 96
Delta blues singer, guitarist
Such was his longevity that, as a young man in Mississippi, he performed with Robert Johnson, one of the most influential and enigmatic bluesmen of all time. Late in life, Mr. Edwards improvised in a Connecticut nightclub with Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards.
Mr. Edwards won a 2007 Grammy for traditional blues album with the recording "Last of the Great Mississippi Delta Bluesmen — Live in Dallas," a collaboration with three other elder statesmen of Mississippi blues: Pinetop Perkins, Robert Lockwood Jr. and Henry James Townsend.
Last year, Mr. Edwards was awarded a lifetime achievement Grammy.
From the 1980s on, Mr. Edwards became a mainstay at festivals, clubs and concerts and even performed for grade-school students.
His spirited performances resounded with his life experiences. He had been a sharecropper, hobo and juke joint entertainer — a witness to an impoverished and racially segregated Jim Crow world far removed from that of his much younger, comfortably middle-class audiences.
Mr. Edwards was born June 28, 1915, on a plantation in Shaw, Miss. He was given his first guitar by his father, a guitarist and fiddler who played rural dances. His early influences included Mississippi blues guitarists Tommy Johnson and Big Joe Williams. Mr. Edwards' father allowed him to travel with Mr. Williams in the winter months when there was no cotton to pick.
His 1997 autobiography, "The World Don't Owe Me Nothing," from transcribed interviews, recounted a youth spent hitchhiking and hopping freight trains throughout Mississippi and Arkansas, and his arrival in Chicago in the early 1950s.
In the book, Mr. Edwards claimed to have been with Robert Johnson in August 1938 at the Three Forks juke joint in Greenwood, Miss., when a man supposedly poisoned his whiskey because of a rivalry over a woman. Three nights later, Mr. Johnson died at 27.