Robert Pete Williams (1914 - 1980)

I found about about Robert Pete Williams when I got ahold of a video called Out of the Blacks and Into the Blues: Along the Old Man River, a documentary about bluesmen. Robert Pete is the first bluesman featured in this video and his segment is very special. It's worth getting this video just for him, although the rest of it is very good also. There are two CDs on Arhoolie and just a couple of other CDs which are harder to find. He is from Louisiana, born March 14, 1914 in Zachary, Louisiana. He never went to school and worked hard all his life. He made his first guitar out of a cigar box and some wire. In the video he tells the story of how he shot a man in a bar in self-defence. He was sentenced to life in the Angola state penitentary. Harry Oster discovered him there while researching blues music. He wrote letters to the governor and was able to secure his release on parole. For the next several years he had to work 80-90 hours a week on a farm. He performed and recorded until he died on December 31, 1980. I most highly recommend both of the Arhoolie CDs and the video.


Page at Blues Online

Blue Flame Cafe

CD Discography:

I'm Blue as a Man Can Be - Arhoolie CD 394 - 1994
Recorded at Angola State Penitentary in 1959 and 1960 by Harry Oster. 15 songs, 65 minutes. All but one song previously available on several Arhoolie LPs. Details from Arhoolie website

When a Man Takes the Blues - Arhoolie CD 395 - 1994
Recorded at Angola State Penitentary in 1959 and 1960 by Harry Oster, except 3 songs recorded in 1970. 14 songs, 71 minutes. Some songs were previously available on LP, some unissued. Details from Arhoolie website

Free Again - Prestige/Bluesville Original Blues Classics 1026 - 1992
Recorded in New Orleans Nov 14, 1960. 10 songs, 44 minutes. Includes notes from original LP and notes from later LP reisssue. Details from Fantasy website

Blues Masters Vol 1 - Storyville STCD 8110 - 1992 (Swedish Import)
Recorded in Copenhagen, March 20, 1972. Some tracks previously issued on Storyville SLP 225, others unissued. Big Joe Williams accompanies on kazoo on 4 songs.

Robert Pete Williams - Fat Possum - 2001
Reissue of 1971 recording. See this page at Fat Possum:

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