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Charley Booker (September 3, 1925 – September 20, 1989) was a blues singer and guitarist from the Mississippi Delta, who recorded in the early 1950s for Modern Records.
Early life and career
Charley Booker was born in 1925 on a plantation between the Mississippi communities of Moorhead and Sunflower, the son of Lucius Booker. There is some doubt about his date of birth: while the 1925 birth date was given by Booker in interviews, social security records give the earlier date of September 3, 1919.
He learned to play guitar from his uncle, who had played with Charley Patton, and Booker stated that as a child he had himself seen Patton perform near Indianola. He worked occasionally as a musician from the late 1930s. By the early 1940s Booker had moved to Leland, and in 1947 he moved to Greenville, where he worked with pianist Willie Love, and also met or worked with musicians such as Elmore James, Sonny Boy Williamson II, Little Milton, Ike Turner and Houston Boines. By 1951 he had his own radio show (possibly on the WDVM station), and in 1952 he was approached by Ike Turner to record for Modern Records.
The recording session was set up by Joe Bihari of Modern Records at the Club Casablanca on Nelson Street, Greenville on January 23, 1952. Booker was backed by Houston Boines on harmonica, Turner on piano and Jesse "Cleanhead" Love on drums, with the same band also backing several songs by Boines. Despite the piano being "horribly out of tune", and problems with local law enforcement, the session resulted in two singles released under Booker's name, one on Modern Records and the other on the associated Blues & Rhythm label, as well as releases by Boines. The Blues & Rhythm release, pairing "No Ridin' Blues" with "Rabbit Blues", sold strongly locally but Booker did not record again for Modern, and a session later the same year for Sam Phillips was unreleased at the time.
Later life and death
Early the following year he moved to South Bend, Indiana and ceased music as a full time occupation Although he continued to play locally, his only further recording was a live guest appearance with Joe Willie Wilkins at a 1973 blues festival at Notre Dame in South Bend. He died on September 30, 1989
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