Bertha Lee Patton: Mind Reader Blues (1934)

 |   |  1 min read

Bertha Lee Patton: Mind Reader Blues (1934)

The last wife of Charley Patton, Bertha Lee was a fine singer in her own right -- and she probably had plenty of reasons to sing the blues.

She was only married to Patton for about four years -- he died in 1934 -- but by all accounts their relationship was a volatile one.

Honeyboy Edwards said, "Charley always had a lot of women. Men didn't like him much because all the women was fools over him" and Howlin' Wolf recalled him as "a great drinker".

He had his throat cut badly during a drunken knife fight so his last sessions didn't capture his former power. 

The Pattons recorded about dozen songs together -- his, on which she also sang -- but she also did three of her own, including this, at his final sessions in January '34 in New York. Apparently Patton cut a couple of dozens songs in New York but only 10 of them were released and the rest destroyed.

He was dead within four months . . . but Bertha Lee lived for another four decades and died in 1975, aged somewhere in her early 70s.

Despite that, there are about as few photos of her as there are of Robert Johnson.

Which is to say, two.

51mDPkk9tKL._SL500_AA300_This track is on the bonus disc Delta Blues Legacy which comes with the album The Rough Guide to Blues Legends; Charley Patton which collects 22 of Patton's songs lifted from very scratchy 78rpms.

Want more of the blues?

Then check out this

For more oddities, one-offs or songs with an interesting backstory use the RSS feed for daily updates, and check the massive back-catalogue at From the Vaults.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   From the Vaults articles index

Sarah Vaughan: After You've Gone (1963)

Sarah Vaughan: After You've Gone (1963)

Some very serious jazz people don't take British pianist/singer Jamie Cullum very seriously. They point out he also sings pop, his repertoire includes songs by the White Stripes and hip-hop artists... > Read more

Donovan: Season of the Witch (1966)

Donovan: Season of the Witch (1966)

When the world was getting very mellow in the mid Sixties, Donovan -- who would subsequently sing Mellow Yellow and had already embarked on a folkadelic path --recorded the dark side of the... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

The Dwight Twilley Band; Twilley Don't Mind (1975)

The Dwight Twilley Band; Twilley Don't Mind (1975)

The wonderful, and possibly apocryphal, story about this band is that Dwight Twilley and Phil Seymour went to see the Beatles' film A Hard Day's Night together in 1967 -- a bit late when you think... > Read more

GUEST PHOTOGRAPHER JONATHAN GANLEY talks the art and business of images from PhotoForum

GUEST PHOTOGRAPHER JONATHAN GANLEY talks the art and business of images from PhotoForum

The forthcoming Rim Books publication of PhotoForum at 40: Counterculture, Clusters, and Debate in New Zealand will mark four decades since PhotoForum was founded. Perhaps the society no longer... > Read more