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. Maybe three.

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

Mr Flotsam and Mr Jetsam: Is 'e an Aussie, is 'e Lizzy (the Thirties?)

Mr Flotsam and Mr Jetsam: Is 'e an Aussie, is 'e Lizzy (the Thirties?)

This is one of those songs which, once heard, is never forgotten: how can you ever erase lines like "seems this digger likes my figure" or "he being well-born, lived in... > Read more

James Blood Ulmer: Are You Glad To Be In America (1981)

James Blood Ulmer: Are You Glad To Be In America (1981)

For many of the open-eared among jazz listeners -- those who had grown up on rock guitarists and heard in Hendrix the vanguard of a fusion, followed Miles Davis through Bitches Brew and Jack... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . ZOOGZ RIFT: Speaking more than Frankly

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . ZOOGZ RIFT: Speaking more than Frankly

Because his music and career was so diverse, heretical and dispirate, few would try to follow in the footsteps of Frank Zappa. He seems to have spawned no progeny. With one notable exception:... > Read more

THE MOTEL LIFE, a novel by WILLY VLAUTIN

THE MOTEL LIFE, a novel by WILLY VLAUTIN

This dark and depressing novel is an impressive debut by Vlautin, the frontman and songwriter for the American alt.country band Richmond Fontaine whose music is, unfortunately, little known here.... > Read more