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Mississippi John Hurt: His Life, His Times, His Blues (American Made Music Series) [Kindle Edition]

Philip R. Ratcliffe
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £39.95
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Book Description

When Mississippi John Hurt (1892-1966) was "rediscovered" by blues revivalists in 1963, his musicianship and recordings transformed popular notions of prewar country blues. At seventy-one he moved to Washington, D.C., from Avalon, Mississippi, and became a live-wire connection to a powerful, authentic past. His intricate and lively style made him the most sought after musician among the many talents the revival brought to light.

Mississippi John Hurt provides this legendary creator's life story for the first time. Biographer Philip Ratcliffe traces Hurt's roots to the moment his mother Mary Jane McCain and his father Isom Hurt were freed from slavery. Anecdotes from Hurt's childhood and teenage years include the destiny-making moment when his mother purchased his first guitar for $1.50 when he was only nine years old. Stories from his neighbors and friends, from both of his wives, and from his extended family round out the community picture of Avalon. U.S. census records, Hurt's first marriage record in 1916, images of his first autographed LP record, and excerpts from personal letters written in his own hand provide treasures for fans. Ratcliffe details Hurt's musical influences and the origins of his style and repertoire. The author also relates numerous stories from the time of his success, drawing on published sources and many hours of interviews with people who knew Hurt well, including the late Jerry Ricks, Pat Sky, Stefan Grossman and Max Ochs, Dick Spottswood, and the late Mike Stewart. In addition, some of the last photographs taken of the legendary musician are featured for the first time in Mississippi John Hurt.

Product Description

About the Author

Philip R. Ratcliffe lives in Argyll and is a musician and ardent blues fan.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2845 KB
  • Print Length: 272 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Mississippi (6 Jun. 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0058TRV5A
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #457,115 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Hello, I am Dr. Phil, Aficionado of the sounds of the Deep South, particularly,
Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia, the Piedmont, New Orleans and Chicago, 1850-
1940. I play ragtime, old-timey, skiffle and blues. I study the history and culture of the Deep South. I was born near Liverpool, England and now live in Scotland. Visit my website at
I present a radio program, Sounds of the South on our local station, Dunoon Community Radio on alternate Tuesdays.
Visit to listen in.
I have recently completed writing a biography of the great ragtime, blues and old-timey musician Mississippi John Hurt: Mississippi John Hurt: His Life, His Times, His Blues,
'Discovery':The Rebirth of Mississippi John Hurt, a CD of the previously unreleased tape recorded at the time of his rediscovery, March 3, 1963 and full of music and conversation with rediscoverer Tom Hoskins.

I have just returned from a book signing tour of Tennessee, Mississippi and New Orleans. I had a great time, met some amazing people and heard some great music.

My story of Mississippi John Hurt includes many anecdotes from people who knew him. There is a lot of humor and social history of Mississippi during the first half of the last century.
Who would have known that the great-great grandfather of Senator John McCain was the owner of slave girl Mary Jane Mc Cain, who became Mississippi John Hurt's mother?
John was bronchitic and had been advised to stop smoking buy his doctor who said, "John, you really should quit smoking those Camels." One day as he lit up another cigarette, a friend asked why he had not followed the doctors advice. John replied, "I did, He didn't say nothing about Pall Malls!"

A Major award for Mississippi John Hurt: His Life, His Times, His Blues.
The Association for Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC), based in Kansas City, Missouri has recently announced the winners of the 2012 ARSC Awards for Excellence in Historical Recorded Sound Research. Begun in 1991, the awards are presented to authors and publishers of books, articles, liner notes, and monographs, to recognize outstanding published research in the field of recorded sound. In giving these awards, ARSC recognizes outstanding contributions, encourages high standards, and promotes awareness of superior works. Two awards may be presented annually in each category--one for best history and one for best discography. Certificates of Merit are presented to runners-up of exceptionally high quality. The 2012 Awards for Excellence honor works published in 2011.

Dr-Phil (Philip R. Ratcliffe) received the top award for BEST RESEARCH in RECORDED BLUES, RHYTHM & BLUES, or SOUL MUSIC for his book, Mississippi John Hurt: His Life, His Times, His Blues, published last year by the University Press of Mississippi.
Dr-Phil will receive his award at the awards banquet to be held in Kansas City, Missouri on Saturday May 19, 2013, and will also make a presentation of his research during ARSC's annual conference, a forum for the exchange of ideas on the cultural and historical importance of our recorded sound legacy.

Dr-Phil is currently working on two new books on similar topics, one based on his popular Dunoon Community Radio programme, Sounds of the South, which is available on the web via the link from

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Your blues makes me feel good 5 Aug. 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Mississippi John Hurt did it for me in the sixties when I bought a secondhand "Today" vinyl LP. So to read this biography is brilliant. My only negative comment is that it is so full of facts it is sometimes difficult to read (at bedtime when you are tired) and remember who everyone is. Essential reading though and you get a real 'feel' of the two eras when his music was recorded (1920s and 1960s). Nicely presented book as well, with interesting photos.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
There is a lot of details in this book that does get a bit hard to take in and a couple of the reproduced maps you need a magnifying glass to read. Overall it gives a very good insight into the life and times of MJT and for me being an englishman I find it hard to come to terms with the segregation that was inflicted on black people by government and locals. I would recommend this book to anyone who is into trying to get more background information about this great bluesman.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb 9 Jun. 2012
By Dr. Pz
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This quite excellent book has been very well researched and tells in much detail the life of one of the great musicians of the last century.

The tale of his rediscovery, with its bittersweet results is very well documented.

The book is also excellently placed in its historical context. For anyone interested in Hurt's music and the realities of the rediscovery of legends like him and Son House, this book is an absolute must..
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