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Leadbelly's Real Name

DigiTrad:
ALABAMA BOUND
BILL MARTIN AND ELLA SPEED
BRING ME LITTLE WATER, SYLVIE
COTTON FIELDS BACK HOME
DUNCAN AND BRADY
DUNCAN AND BRADY (2)
GOOD NIGHT IRENE
JUMPIN' JUDY
KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF HER
KISSES SWEETER THAN WINE
LININ' TRACK
MIDNIGHT SPECIAL
ROCK ME ON THE WATER
SKEWBALL
SO LONG IT'S BEEN GOOD TO KNOW YUH
SONG TO WOODY
TAKE THIS HAMMER
THE GRAY GOOSE
THE ROCK ISLAND LINE (is a mighty fine line)
WE SHALL WALK THROUGH THE VALLEY
WHOA BACK BUCK
YOU DON'T KNOW ME


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GUEST,Mike Strobel 26 Jul 01 - 01:44 PM
GUEST 26 Jul 01 - 01:57 PM
Rick Fielding 26 Jul 01 - 02:06 PM
BanjoRay 26 Jul 01 - 02:28 PM
BanjoRay 26 Jul 01 - 02:29 PM
GUEST 26 Jul 01 - 03:25 PM
RoyH (Burl) 26 Jul 01 - 03:50 PM
bobbi 26 Jul 01 - 04:11 PM
jacko@nz 26 Jul 01 - 04:16 PM
GUEST,Mike Strobel 26 Jul 01 - 04:18 PM
jacko@nz 26 Jul 01 - 04:18 PM
catspaw49 26 Jul 01 - 04:59 PM
Mr Red 26 Jul 01 - 05:45 PM
GUEST,kendall 26 Jul 01 - 07:44 PM
Art Thieme 26 Jul 01 - 08:39 PM
Art Thieme 26 Jul 01 - 08:41 PM
GUEST,Lyle 26 Jul 01 - 08:53 PM
Stewie 26 Jul 01 - 08:57 PM
JohnInKansas 26 Jul 01 - 09:58 PM
Mrrzy 26 Jul 01 - 10:23 PM
Rick Fielding 27 Jul 01 - 01:19 AM
GUEST 30 Jul 01 - 04:00 PM
McGrath of Harlow 30 Jul 01 - 06:43 PM
GUEST,pioneer@kans.com 30 Jul 01 - 06:57 PM
McGrath of Harlow 30 Jul 01 - 07:11 PM
Deckman 30 Jul 01 - 07:27 PM
GUEST,Lyle 30 Jul 01 - 08:48 PM
Deckman 30 Jul 01 - 09:53 PM
Don Firth 30 Jul 01 - 09:54 PM
Deckman 30 Jul 01 - 10:12 PM
Mark Cohen 30 Jul 01 - 10:40 PM
Deckman 30 Jul 01 - 10:56 PM
toadfrog 30 Jul 01 - 11:52 PM
Rick Fielding 31 Jul 01 - 01:05 AM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 31 Jul 01 - 01:32 AM
McGrath of Harlow 31 Jul 01 - 06:26 AM
Deckman 31 Jul 01 - 06:58 AM
Rick Fielding 31 Jul 01 - 10:10 AM
Tedham Porterhouse 31 Jul 01 - 10:35 AM
CRANKY YANKEE 31 Jul 01 - 02:13 PM
Art Thieme 31 Jul 01 - 04:26 PM
Max 31 Jul 01 - 05:04 PM
McGrath of Harlow 31 Jul 01 - 07:55 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 31 Jul 01 - 08:25 PM
Coyote Breath 31 Jul 01 - 09:51 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 31 Jul 01 - 10:04 PM
Coyote Breath 31 Jul 01 - 10:24 PM
McGrath of Harlow 01 Aug 01 - 05:35 AM
Mrrzy 08 Feb 04 - 10:39 AM
GUEST,Big Jim from Jackson 08 Feb 04 - 04:07 PM
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Subject: Lead Belly's Real Name
From: GUEST,Mike Strobel
Date: 26 Jul 01 - 01:44 PM

We were discussing Lead Belly's real name last night. we know it was Huddie William Leadbetter , however , we thought that Huddie was short for a more fuller first name. Might any of you know what that might be ? ( we are trying to prove a certain author was in error ). Thanks for your help.

Mike Strobel


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Subject: RE: Lead Belly's Real Name
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Jul 01 - 01:57 PM

I believe it's "Henry"


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Subject: RE: Lead Belly's Real Name
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 26 Jul 01 - 02:06 PM

Hi Mike. From the many sources I've read over the years, it would appear to have just been "Huddie" (pronounced Hewdie). I used to wonder about that myself.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Lead Belly's Real Name
From: BanjoRay
Date: 26 Jul 01 - 02:28 PM

The biography by Charles Wolfe and Kip Lornell "The Life and Legend of Leadbelly" gives it as Huddie Leadbetter - no William or Henry.

Cheers
Ray


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Subject: RE: Lead Belly's Real Name
From: BanjoRay
Date: 26 Jul 01 - 02:29 PM

Sorry, that is of course Ledbetter, not Leadbetter.

Exit with red face.
Ray


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Subject: RE: Lead Belly's Real Name
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Jul 01 - 03:25 PM

Dear Rick & Banjo Ray, Thank you. The most I have found was Huddie William Ledbetter .Now , Ray Baumler ( in his sixties ) said that he thought around 50 years ago he read that Huddie's real first name was something like : Hludik . So, I'm gonna call the Rochester Public Library and Ray is gonna e-mail Pete Seeger so, we ( the Folk FBI ) can get to the bottom or ( Belly) of this. Thanks guys,

Mike


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Subject: RE: Lead Belly's Real Name
From: RoyH (Burl)
Date: 26 Jul 01 - 03:50 PM

I have no evidence for this but I once heard that 'Huddie'was short for 'Hudson'. Whatever you call him, he was a damn fine singer.


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Subject: RE: Lead Belly's Real Name
From: bobbi
Date: 26 Jul 01 - 04:11 PM

Huddie William Ledbetter was born on January 29, 1885 on the Jeter Plantation near Mooringsport, Louisiana. He was the only child of his parents Wesley and Sally. In 1916 Huddie was in jail in Texas on assault charges when he escaped. He spent the next two years under the alias of Walter Boyd.


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Subject: RE: Lead Belly's Real Name
From: jacko@nz
Date: 26 Jul 01 - 04:16 PM

A broadcast of 'The Folkways Collection' currently being aired in NZ said that Hudson was the given name

Jack


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Subject: RE: Lead Belly's Real Name
From: GUEST,Mike Strobel
Date: 26 Jul 01 - 04:18 PM

Dear Bobbi , Thank you. I saw that as well . I would be satisfied at that, however, we are bound and determined ( as long as we are able to prove it ) , that this young author needs to brush up on his folk history . ( This of course being the mission statement of the Folk FBI ). Once finding out this info, we will gladly slip it to all of you Mudcatters and sell it only to the Russians or Canadians ( The higest bidder ). My kids need to go to university. Thanks. All in fun.

Mike


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Subject: RE: Lead Belly's Real Name
From: jacko@nz
Date: 26 Jul 01 - 04:18 PM

A broadcast of 'The Folkways Collection' currently being aired in NZ said that Hudson was the given name

Jack


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Subject: RE: Lead Belly's Real Name
From: catspaw49
Date: 26 Jul 01 - 04:59 PM

I was curious about this and tried various combinations on the net (Google) and actually spent almost 45 minutes reading a genealogy about the Ledbetters which mentioned Leadbelly. It's really buried, but it again only gave Huddie=Leadbelly and not even a middle name.

I'll be interested to see what's found as I've never seen or heard anything that I recall outside of Huddie.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Lead Belly's Real Name
From: Mr Red
Date: 26 Jul 01 - 05:45 PM

what does it say in the Lomaxes' book?
I lost my copy in shipping all my goods and chattels to/from NZ
surely there would be an entry for Ledbelly since that's where the Lomaxes found him, collecting songs from he & his fellow inmates.
wasn't he credited as the source for "the House of the Rising Sun"
copyright documents for "Irene" might help.
Isn't the Library of Congress on line?
just a few thoughts.


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Subject: RE: Lead Belly's Real Name
From: GUEST,kendall
Date: 26 Jul 01 - 07:44 PM

Sorry Guest but Pete does not have e mail.


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Subject: RE: Lead Belly's Real Name
From: Art Thieme
Date: 26 Jul 01 - 08:39 PM

I've talked about this in another thread----that Robert Cantwell had said that Leadbelly's first name was really HUDSON.

In the margin of the book I put a very large "?" near that statement. I don't think we ever settled it. but I was hoping Cantwell would come in here and stand up for his assertion. No such luck though.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Lead Belly's Real Name
From: Art Thieme
Date: 26 Jul 01 - 08:41 PM

Robert Cantwell's book is When We Were Good.


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Subject: RE: Lead Belly's Real Name
From: GUEST,Lyle
Date: 26 Jul 01 - 08:53 PM

From all the evidence I've been able to locate, I'd have to believe that his name was Huddie Ledbetter. However, that is based not on any defining fact, but on the preponderance of evidence. That includes John and Alan Lomax, Charles Wolfe, Kip Lornell, and several other "lesser" researchers. Just as his birthplace (Texas or Louisiana) has been in dispute, so has his name. To resolve these questions, one weighs the arguments and decides on the basis of who said what, and how much each of those persons might have known.

I have actually seen the census report that states "Hudy" (note this spelling!) was born January, 1888.

No ACTUAL middle name has ever been found.

Lyle


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Subject: RE: Lead Belly's Real Name
From: Stewie
Date: 26 Jul 01 - 08:57 PM

As further confirmation, Dixon & Godrich 'Blues and Gospel Records 1902-1943' give it as 'Huddie Ledbetter' with 'Leadbelly' or 'Huddie Leadbelly' used as pseudonyms on ARC and Bluebird.

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Lead Belly's Real Name
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 26 Jul 01 - 09:58 PM

The Warners (Traditional American Folk Songs from the Anne & Frank Warner Collection, Anne Warner with foreword by Alan Lomax,Syracuse University Press, 1984, ISBN 0-8156-0185-9) were among the first to collect Leadbelly songs, although he appears to have been fairly well known by the time they first met him.

Unfortunately, they give only "Leadbelly - Huddie Ledbetter, of Louisianna and Texas, 'King of the Twelve-String Guitar'" as an identification.

They do add a comment that "Leadbelly" was his "prison name," and that his cell-mate was "Iron Head."

The Lomax books that I have at hand do not index the people from whom songs were collected, so if there is anything to be "gleaned" it would require searching the whole of the books. Sorry, but that will have to wait.

John


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Subject: RE: Lead Belly's Real Name
From: Mrrzy
Date: 26 Jul 01 - 10:23 PM

When my dad was his bartender he called himself Hudy, or at least pronounced it hew-dee, not hud-dee, and Dad spelled it Hudy, or at least once commented on the spelling on a record label as being longer than it oughta be.. I'd go with the census records...


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Subject: RE: Lead Belly's Real Name
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 27 Jul 01 - 01:19 AM

Hi Mrz, did your dad remember what his favourite drink was? What bar was it?

Rick


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Subject: RE: Lead Belly's Real Name
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Jul 01 - 04:00 PM

Dear All , Boy are you guys the best. I believe in all of the correspondence , I have gotten and all of the research we can now say ( as far as we know ),that Lead Belly's , real name was /is : Huddie Ledbetter

Thanks for all your help.


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Subject: RE: Lead Belly's Real Name
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 30 Jul 01 - 06:43 PM

When my dad was his bartender he called himself Hudy, or at least pronounced it hew-dee, not hud-dee..(Mrrzy)

Would that be pronounced as in Hugh or as in Hoo (or Yehudi)?


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Subject: RE: Lead Belly's Real Name
From: GUEST,pioneer@kans.com
Date: 30 Jul 01 - 06:57 PM

On the Library of Congress recordings, Alan Lomax talks to him as "hugh-dee" and since Leadbelly doesn't correct him, one might suppose that was close enough for him. I would suppose he told Lomax his name the way he pronounced it.


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Subject: RE: Lead Belly's Real Name
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 30 Jul 01 - 07:11 PM

So could it have been a version of Hugh? Or would that have been an unlikely name in Texas/Louisiana in the 1880s?


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Subject: RE: Lead Belly's Real Name
From: Deckman
Date: 30 Jul 01 - 07:27 PM

I'm holding a copy of "The Midnight Special" written in 1971 by Richard M. Garvin and Edmond G. Addeo, published by Bernard Geis Associates. It refers to him consitantly as "Huddie." You might also find this interesting. The late Walt Robertson gave me this book years ago. It's signed by Leadbelly, and says, "Walt, if they aint no more cane on the Brazos, you may as well raise hell in Seattle ... Leadbelly 16 July 1972." Interesting ... ehhh? CHEERS, Bob(deckman)Nelson


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Subject: RE: Lead Belly's Real Name
From: GUEST,Lyle
Date: 30 Jul 01 - 08:48 PM

Deckman: That is VERY interesting since he died December 6, 1949!


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Subject: RE: Lead Belly's Real Name
From: Deckman
Date: 30 Jul 01 - 09:53 PM

I can't explain it, I only posted what this book says ... I've always wondered about it! Bob(deckman)Nelson


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Subject: RE: Lead Belly's Real Name
From: Don Firth
Date: 30 Jul 01 - 09:54 PM

Hey, Bob, are you sure you're not mis-reading the date? Walt Robertson attended Haverford College (which is right down the road from Swarthmore) in the late Forties, and he took in all the Swarthmore Folk Festivals while he was there. I know he met Richard Dyer-Bennet, John Jacob Niles, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, the Lomaxes, and God knows who all else. Leadbelly sang there in 1946. Walt could have met him then.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Lead Belly's Real Name
From: Deckman
Date: 30 Jul 01 - 10:12 PM

Hi Don, I've got a real mystery on my hands! The book tell me that Leadbelly died in Dec. 6th of 1949, of "amyotropic lateral sclerosis - a form of poliomyelitis." I also remember Walt telling me that he had met Leadbelly several times. This book wasn't published until 1971. Library of Congress number 70-134214. It says, "first printing". Going to your question, yes, I do believe I'm reading it correctly. It's dated 16 July 1972. We'll be down soon for a visit, and to delivar the taper recorder from Jo Harms. I'll bring this book along and maybe you can figgure it out! I dunno. I dunno. I dunno ...Cheers, Bob


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Subject: RE: Lead Belly's Real Name
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 30 Jul 01 - 10:40 PM

Well, to Muddy the Waters a bit (oof! sorry), I'll just correct the minor medical misinformation in Bob's book: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is not a form of poliomyelitis. It's a degenerative disorder of the spinal cord, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease. I didn't realize Leadbelly had it, too. Be that as it may, having recently had some interesting flirtations with the paranormal, I'd be very interested in discovering how Leadbelly signed a book that wasn't published until 22 years after his death!

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: Lead Belly's Real Name
From: Deckman
Date: 30 Jul 01 - 10:56 PM

Hi Mark ... I had bride Judy read the dedication. She reads English better than I and her beautiful eyes are younger than mine! She interputs the same as I. I know of someone in London I can quiz about this, but I'll be surprised if she has any information. I'll e-mail her now. I want to be clear about something. Let's not get this thing built beyond porportion. All I have is a book that Walt gave me with a dedication that doesn't seem to make a lot of sense. Walt lived a mysterious life and many mysteries remain, but let's not jump into unreality about this. I'll let you know what I learn. Meantime, I can hear my Martin playing with itself, again. CHEERS, Bob(deckman)Nelson


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Subject: RE: Lead Belly's Real Name
From: toadfrog
Date: 30 Jul 01 - 11:52 PM

Let's see. I have a very old recording of Pete Seeger, in which he pronounced it "Hew-die." But Leadbelly sang:

If anybody ask you, who composed this song,
Tell 'em its Hud-die Ledbetter, he's done been here and gone
Just lookin' for a home . . .


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Subject: RE: Lead Belly's Real Name
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 31 Jul 01 - 01:05 AM

Ahahhh Toadfrog! Brilliant...we get the pronunciation straight from the horse's mouth. We all should have thought of that! Good work.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Lead Belly's Real Name
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 31 Jul 01 - 01:32 AM

The Leadbelly Web has some interesting information. It says he was born Huddie William Ledbetter on Jeter Plantation, LA (Jan 29, 1885; date in dispute). A LA penitentiary record, 1934, shows his name as Huddie Ledbetter. A fairly long biography is given. It notes that he said he got "Goodnight, Irene" from his uncle, Bob Ledbetter (probably true since one of the verses came from another song (see Digitrad). In the south, Huddie would be pronounced "Hugh-die", according to my deep south wife.


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Subject: RE: Lead Belly's Real Name
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 31 Jul 01 - 06:26 AM

I'd imagine the most likely explanation for that dedication is that Walt was quoting something that Leadbelly said to him, or maybe wrote to him, and he put it in the book when he got it over 20 years later as a reminder of old times.

"straight from the horse's mouth" - once again, the singing horse!


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Subject: RE: Lead Belly's Real Name
From: Deckman
Date: 31 Jul 01 - 06:58 AM

Highly Likely. Bob Nelson


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Subject: RE: Lead Belly's Real Name
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 31 Jul 01 - 10:10 AM

Now cut that out McGrath!!!

There's another "name" thing that I remember from years ago.

Was Sonny Terry, Saunders Teddell or perhaps Saunders Terrell. The first may have been a mis-print...anyone know?

Rick


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Subject: RE: Lead Belly's Real Name
From: Tedham Porterhouse
Date: 31 Jul 01 - 10:35 AM

Rick,

Terrell is correct.


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Subject: RE: Lead Belly's Real Name
From: CRANKY YANKEE
Date: 31 Jul 01 - 02:13 PM

Jocko@NZ. You're absolutely right, his name was "Hudson Ledbetter"

HE pronounced it ,"H-UH-Dee", Not "Hugh-dee". I've got one of his records that was recorded while he was singing to a bunch of school children. He said, at the beginning, "Good Mornin' Chillun, my name is HUH-DY Ledbetter."

He also says his name, as a contraction of "Hudson". on "The Ballad of the Boll Weevil"

Besides, I knew him slightly when I was a kid.


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Subject: RE: Lead Belly's Real Name
From: Art Thieme
Date: 31 Jul 01 - 04:26 PM

Folks,

In other threads here at Mudcat I have mentioned that I was once a part of a folk quartet that consisted of Elvis Pressley, Patty Page, Rosemary Clooney and myself.

We called ourselve Pressley, Page, Rosemary and Thieme !!

What I'm saying is that just because said that line on stage maybe 300 times probably, my last name is still pronounced as if it were THEME (like a theme song and nothing like thyme.

Art


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Subject: RE: Lead Belly's Real Name
From: Max
Date: 31 Jul 01 - 05:04 PM

On Leadbelly's Last Sessions he sings Fannin Street and sings that same line that toadfrog mentioned above. Listen yourself right from the horses mouth.


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Subject: RE: Lead Belly's Real Name
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 31 Jul 01 - 07:55 PM

Definitely that's a long u.

And I've heard that one often enough, and never picked it up, just went on pronouncing it with a short u.

But I want to get hold of that kid's record he did.


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Subject: RE: Lead Belly's Real Name
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 31 Jul 01 - 08:25 PM

Although Leadbelly is used by most people, according to one biog. note, his family said he preferred Lead Belly (as this thread starts out). The fragment found by Max shows definitely a long U (Hew-die) but I won't crow over Cranky Yankee. My name is pronounced variably and I usually just go along with the speaker. A double-d would make it Hud (as in Mud) to most people, but regionalism must be considered. Lead Belly himself may have been ambivalent about his name and may have changed through time. As some others have posted here, I have checked a number of bios. and can't find Hudson in any of them. Other southern names- Beaufort becomes Bewfort, Beaulieu is Bewley, Spahn is Spain, etc, etc. And they used to eat Vy-anna sausages. This would make a thread in itself.


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Subject: RE: Lead Belly's Real Name
From: Coyote Breath
Date: 31 Jul 01 - 09:51 PM

Art! as I remember you introduced yourself to me as Thieme (theem) and anyway in German "ie" is EE and "ei" is I!

Am I cornfuzed? or jest OLD?


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Subject: RE: Lead Belly's Real Name
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 31 Jul 01 - 10:04 PM

ie = ee, ei = i. the main vowels are ah, ay, ee, oh and oo in most languages. English is the exception that proves the rule. Many people (including myself) pronounce their name incorrectly. We just like to confuse others.


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Subject: RE: Lead Belly's Real Name
From: Coyote Breath
Date: 31 Jul 01 - 10:24 PM

Boy! you can say THAT again! My last name is...

Meisenheimer. Really!

I've had a lot of fun with that you can bet.


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Subject: RE: Lead Belly's Real Name
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 01 Aug 01 - 05:35 AM

"Beaulieu is Bewley" - that's the way it's pronounced in England too. Especially by posh people.


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Subject: RE: Lead Belly's Real Name
From: Mrrzy
Date: 08 Feb 04 - 10:39 AM

OK, memory problem: I think I said the name of the famous club where Dad tended bar and served Leadbelly, but I can't find it and can't remember it and neither can Mom now, can anybody? THANKS!


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Subject: RE: Lead Belly's Real Name
From: GUEST,Big Jim from Jackson
Date: 08 Feb 04 - 04:07 PM

Hey, Coyote Breath: We had a guy on my highschool basketball team whose name was Meisenheimer. On the backs of the team uniforms each player had his named spelled. Unfortunately, Meisenheimer was too long to fit, so they broke it into two parts, like this:
                   Meisen-
                   heimer
This led to his teammates calling him by the following:
                Meisen hyphen heimer
It was all said together, as though it was one word.


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