Roosevelt Sykes – Hard Drivin’ Blues
Delmark DD 607 (1995)
Roosevelt Sykes is one of the most important urban bluesmen of all time. That’s a strong statement, but Roosevelt Sykes is a strong singer, a powerful pianist, a magnificent personality, and a profound influence on other bluesmen of his own and several succeeding generations. One has but to listen to note traces of the Sykes style. His compositions (including Night Time Is The Right Time, a vehicle for Ray Charles, and Driving Wheel, revived by Junior Parker) are an important part of the blues repertoire. His piano was heard behind virtually every blues singer who headquartered in St. Louis during the 1930’s.
Roosevelt Sykes Bey was born in Helena, Arkansas on January 31, 1906. He worked on a cotton farm, in sawmills, in a cafeteria and as a cab-driver. Sykes is glowing in his praise of Lee Green and Leroy Carr whom he quickly equaled or surpassed. He lists his favorite pianists as Earl Hines, Count Basie and Fats Waller.