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Leadbelly or Lead Belly?

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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Bob Coltman 01 Sep 06 - 06:51 AM
Leadfingers 01 Sep 06 - 07:00 AM
The PA 01 Sep 06 - 07:02 AM
Mark Ross 01 Sep 06 - 09:11 AM
C. Ham 01 Sep 06 - 09:17 AM
BuckMulligan 01 Sep 06 - 09:25 AM
GUEST 01 Sep 06 - 10:17 AM
bojay68 01 Sep 06 - 10:53 AM
bojay68 01 Sep 06 - 10:54 AM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 01 Sep 06 - 10:56 AM
GUEST,Ian P 01 Sep 06 - 11:21 AM
Mark Clark 01 Sep 06 - 11:28 AM
donovan 01 Sep 06 - 01:20 PM
*Laura* 01 Sep 06 - 06:37 PM
GUEST 01 Sep 06 - 07:23 PM
BuckMulligan 01 Sep 06 - 07:39 PM
Dave'sWife 01 Sep 06 - 07:46 PM
Kaleea 01 Sep 06 - 07:56 PM
GUEST,Phil 01 Sep 06 - 11:03 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 01 Sep 06 - 11:33 PM
Acme 02 Sep 06 - 01:12 AM
fat B****rd 02 Sep 06 - 03:33 AM
bojay68 02 Sep 06 - 03:54 AM
Mr Yellow 02 Sep 06 - 06:14 AM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 02 Sep 06 - 07:54 AM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 02 Sep 06 - 10:36 AM
Acme 02 Sep 06 - 11:35 AM
Bill D 02 Sep 06 - 12:10 PM
Acme 02 Sep 06 - 01:01 PM
Bernard 02 Sep 06 - 02:38 PM
toadfrog 03 Sep 06 - 03:00 PM
Bill D 03 Sep 06 - 07:06 PM
Dave'sWife 17 Sep 06 - 11:11 AM
Thomas Stern 17 Sep 06 - 11:50 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 17 Sep 06 - 12:41 PM
Mr Red 17 Sep 06 - 05:03 PM
GUEST 03 Jan 07 - 08:56 PM
GUEST 03 Jan 07 - 09:06 PM
Peace 03 Jan 07 - 09:08 PM
Folk Form # 1 04 Jan 07 - 05:44 AM
Mr Red 04 Jan 07 - 06:41 AM
Suffet 04 Jan 07 - 07:25 AM
Roger the Skiffler 04 Jan 07 - 09:24 AM
GUEST,Frank Hamilton 04 Jan 07 - 06:44 PM
Murray MacLeod 04 Jan 07 - 07:14 PM
*guest* 04 Jan 07 - 08:50 PM
GUEST,George Campbell 02 May 08 - 05:47 PM
mark gregory 02 May 08 - 10:02 PM
GUEST,The Foundation 14 Apr 11 - 11:45 PM
Max 15 Apr 11 - 07:29 AM
GUEST,Alan Whittle 15 Apr 11 - 01:58 PM
GUEST,Blues Fan 09 Jun 11 - 11:42 PM
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Subject: Leadbelly or Lead Belly?
From: Bob Coltman
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 06:51 AM

A matter of usage has come up in preparing a book that mentions Leadbelly. Or Lead Belly.

Which is right?

Since the question is correctness, please don't give mere personal opinions. I need authoritative verdicts with evidence.

Are scholars tending to use "Lead Belly" now? Or is that just a quirk?

All my life I've seen it as "Leadbelly." The Wolfe and Lornell biography spells it "Leadbelly." That's how it appears on his albums.

On the other hand, the Lead Belly Foundation uses the two-word form. My editor does too. I'm stuck in the middle. I vastly prefer "Leadbelly," but is that just me?

Bob


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Subject: RE: Leadbelly or Lead Belly?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 07:00 AM

As I am halfway there myself , I would definately say Leadbelly !


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Subject: RE: Leadbelly or Lead Belly?
From: The PA
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 07:02 AM

Yep me too, Leadbelly. Thats what it says on the album covers and the concert tickets, which my husband still has from years and years ago.


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Subject: RE: Leadbelly or Lead Belly?
From: Mark Ross
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 09:11 AM

The Lomax book from 1935 gives it as two words. Also, I understand that his family prefers it that way.

Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Leadbelly or Lead Belly?
From: C. Ham
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 09:17 AM

Smithsonian Folkways uses "Lead Belly."


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Subject: RE: Leadbelly or Lead Belly?
From: BuckMulligan
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 09:25 AM

I believe Huddie Ledbetter rendered it as "Lead Belly"


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Subject: RE: Leadbelly or Lead Belly?
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 10:17 AM

Yes. "Lead Belly" is the correct construction. See "Romancing the Folk"


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Subject: RE: Leadbelly or Lead Belly?
From: bojay68
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 10:53 AM

Just checked Wikipedia (man, I love that site!)and they have it as
"Leadbelly" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leadbelly
Check it out if you want an official reference.
Peace, bojay68


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Subject: RE: Leadbelly or Lead Belly?
From: bojay68
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 10:54 AM

p.s. for what it's worth, I like "Leadbelly"


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Subject: RE: Leadbelly or Lead Belly?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 10:56 AM

I would hardly use Wikipedia as a source, they are far from "official". Check out the Lead Belly Foundation, which is organized by his niece, Tiny Robinson.

I like Lead Belly.


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Subject: RE: Leadbelly or Lead Belly?
From: GUEST,Ian P
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 11:21 AM

Perhaps it's like the spelling of Davy/Davey Graham, who reputedly couldn't decide which he preferred and used either at different times.


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Subject: RE: Leadbelly or Lead Belly?
From: Mark Clark
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 11:28 AM

I got introduced to folk music by a man who knew Huddie and Martha personally and used to go up to their NYC appartment for singing. They corresponded with Martha long after Huddie's death.

It's Lead Belly.

What “seems” right or sounds right has no bearing on the issue. It's Lead Belly.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Leadbelly or Lead Belly?
From: donovan
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 01:20 PM

Meat Loaf.


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Subject: RE: Leadbelly or Lead Belly?
From: *Laura*
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 06:37 PM

we had this discussion on several of the festival CD stalls when deciding whether to look under 'L' or 'B' for the price.
In the end 'L' won.

xLx


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Subject: RE: Leadbelly or Lead Belly?
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 07:23 PM

good to see Mudcat continuing its tradition of discussing the really important issues in music ...


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Subject: RE: Leadbelly or Lead Belly?
From: BuckMulligan
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 07:39 PM

Geez, GUEST 7:23, it beats the shit outta listening to conspiracy theories and bloviation about politics.


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Subject: RE: Leadbelly or Lead Belly?
From: Dave'sWife
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 07:46 PM

bojay68 - Wikipedia is not a good source. I am a volunteer editor and their rules about renderings do not take into account what is correct but rather what is the most commonly cited usage. That is the way it is done there. So, you cannot rely upon Wikipedia for the final word. In addition, it is a popularly edited site. it is good background but not good source material. I say that even though I have authored many articles there and I love the place.


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Subject: RE: Leadbelly or Lead Belly?
From: Kaleea
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 07:56 PM

or, O'Leadbelly?


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Subject: RE: Leadbelly or Lead Belly?
From: GUEST,Phil
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 11:03 PM

Lead Belly
http://www.deltablues.net/lead3full.jpg
- Phil


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Subject: RE: Leadbelly or Lead Belly?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 11:33 PM

Charles Wolfes & Kip Lornell's biography spelled it as "Leadbelly", but in the book they show pictures of programs (including a memorial program in 1950) which spell it as "Lead Belly",an LP from the 1950's which spell it as "Lead Belly", a copy of Lead Belly's personal stationary that uses "Lead Belly", and the clincher - his FBI file uses "Lead Belly".

Nuff said.


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Subject: RE: Leadbelly or Lead Belly?
From: Acme
Date: 02 Sep 06 - 01:12 AM

We know the FBI can never be wrong. . .oughta put them in the same category as Wikipedia when it comes to good source material. :-/

I can't vouch in any way, shape, or form for Capitol Records' authority on this, but I'm looking at the cover of my album Leadbelly: Huddie Ledbetter's Best. . . His Guitar - His Voice - His Piano (T 1821) and the liner notes also say Leadbelly.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Leadbelly or Lead Belly?
From: fat B****rd
Date: 02 Sep 06 - 03:33 AM

Spell his name how you want. He was (is) fuckinggreat.
ATB from fatB****rd.


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Subject: RE: Leadbelly or Lead Belly?
From: bojay68
Date: 02 Sep 06 - 03:54 AM

Thanks for the info, Dave'sWife. I didn't know that. I also took WFDU-Ron Olesko's advice and went to the Lead Belly Foundation site. All very helpful.
Peace, bojay68


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Subject: RE: Leadbelly or Lead Belly?
From: Mr Yellow
Date: 02 Sep 06 - 06:14 AM

Hudie, Huddie, Hudy, or............. Hudson?


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Subject: RE: Leadbelly or Lead Belly?
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 02 Sep 06 - 07:54 AM

Thanks all for your contributions.

In sum, based on the more knowledgeable comments, looks like I go against my own instincts and use Lead Belly.

And to the poster who thought this was pretty trivial:

Consider the risk of publishing a 400 page book that mentions the man several times, getting it wrong, and getting sniped at for years by people who think it's pretty important what a famous man's right name is.

Nuff sed. Bob


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Subject: RE: Leadbelly or Lead Belly?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 02 Sep 06 - 10:36 AM

Bob, you would not be the first to get it wrong! In fact, I don't think it should even be considered "wrong". It was a nickname, and with that comes some artistic license. While I would respect the artist and families wish, I don't think it would be considered wrong. As I mentioned, the biography of Ledbetter that was published in 1992 spelled it Lead Belly.


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Subject: RE: Leadbelly or Lead Belly?
From: Acme
Date: 02 Sep 06 - 11:35 AM

Once it is in print it is more or less etched in stone. If you offer an initial note and a citation as to where you take your guidance regarding the spelling of his name, you should be set. You need to then be consistent in how you use it, but with the following proviso: you shouldn't change direct quotes, so if somebody else wrote it differently, you need to use that variation in that quote. Sometimes adding [sic] will take care of it, if you feel you need to make a nod to that spelling for readers.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Leadbelly or Lead Belly?
From: Bill D
Date: 02 Sep 06 - 12:10 PM

seems like the picture of his tombstone (tomb stone?) should be definitive..


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Subject: RE: Leadbelly or Lead Belly?
From: Acme
Date: 02 Sep 06 - 01:01 PM

what a wag. . .


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Subject: RE: Leadbelly or Lead Belly?
From: Bernard
Date: 02 Sep 06 - 02:38 PM

As it would seem to have originated as a play on his 'real' name, Ledbetter, one would be forgiven for assuming Leadbelly to be 'correct'.

Many of the above postings seem to suggest that the man himself used both variants, so neither should be regarded as 'correct', despite what the family (or anyone else) may prefer.

I reckon SRS's advice is the best - as long as you've acknowledged the existence of both variants, you can stick with the one you prefer throughout.

Bern Ard


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Subject: RE: Leadbelly or Lead Belly?
From: toadfrog
Date: 03 Sep 06 - 03:00 PM

Query:

I haven't much been around here for the past couple of years, because it began to look like all subjects relating to traditional music had been discussed until nothing more could be said, or people believed there was nothing more to say.

Today confirms that impression. 40 or so threads, including out-of-place british political stuff. Nothing on folk music, except threads about gigs, or threads like this one.

Has mudcat become nothing more than a place where performers go to shoot the bull with other performers? Am I unjust? Is it just that I don't come by often enough?


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Subject: RE: Leadbelly or Lead Belly?
From: Bill D
Date: 03 Sep 06 - 07:06 PM

no doubt the % has shifted as a wider variety of stuff is discussed, but there's always folk stuff happening.

Perhaps you need to help it along towards subject matter YOU think more interesting and appropriate.

Everyone's tolerance for 'diversity' is different.


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Subject: RE: Leadbelly or Lead Belly?
From: Dave'sWife
Date: 17 Sep 06 - 11:11 AM

GUEST,Bob Coltman , this discussion might have proved useful afterall. i would suggest that when you first mmake mention of him in your book that you footnote it and in the notes section explain the naming variants the reader may encounter in other publications, which one you are choosing to stick with throughout your text and why.


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Subject: RE: Leadbelly or Lead Belly?
From: Thomas Stern
Date: 17 Sep 06 - 11:50 AM

to further muddy the waters,
if you listen to the recordings, there are a couple where he
says his first name first syllable - each pronounced differently: one as HUH.. the other as Hyou...
Thomas.


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Subject: RE: Leadbelly or Lead Belly?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 17 Sep 06 - 12:41 PM

This was gone over in great detail in thread 37033, linked above and again here: Lead Belly's Real Name

It do get boring.


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Subject: RE: Leadbelly or Lead Belly?
From: Mr Red
Date: 17 Sep 06 - 05:03 PM

So - do you quote his real surname? His real first name? the latter is somewhat of a minefield - there are threads that debate this.
In a 400 page tome I would think there is room for a passing referrence - the clues are above. A little digging will confirm.


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Subject: RE: Leadbelly or Lead Belly?
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Jan 07 - 08:56 PM

Don Avan
Lu Lu
Bo No
B Eck
Lo Bo
Mo By
Blon Die


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Subject: RE: Leadbelly or Lead Belly?
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Jan 07 - 09:06 PM

Eric Crapped On reckons his name was Hudson Ledbetter


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Subject: RE: Leadbelly or Lead Belly?
From: Peace
Date: 03 Jan 07 - 09:08 PM

Mr Ledbetter to most folks.


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Subject: RE: Leadbelly or Lead Belly?
From: Folk Form # 1
Date: 04 Jan 07 - 05:44 AM

Mr Belly to the rest.


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Subject: RE: Leadbelly or Lead Belly?
From: Mr Red
Date: 04 Jan 07 - 06:41 AM

only after too many Penguinb Eggs though.

I have heard recording where he say to himself "come on Hudson ......"

But don't let me question the probability of unusual first names............


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Subject: RE: Leadbelly or Lead Belly?
From: Suffet
Date: 04 Jan 07 - 07:25 AM

Greetings:

I wouldn't put much faith in Woody Guthrie's spelling conventions, since he often made up his own. But for what it's worth, Woody used the one-word format in an essay called "LEADBELLY is a hard name" which was first published in 1947. See Woody Guthrie, American Folksong First edition: New York: DISC Company of America, 1947. Reprint edition: New York, Oak Publications, 1961.

--- Steve


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Subject: RE: Leadbelly or Lead Belly?
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 04 Jan 07 - 09:24 AM

According to the Wolf and Lornell biog. "Life and Legends of Leadbelly" even the Ledbetter family disagree on this. Certainly the early recordings used both variants.

RtS


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Subject: RE: Leadbelly or Lead Belly?
From: GUEST,Frank Hamilton
Date: 04 Jan 07 - 06:44 PM

As I understand it, his name derives from the inmates on the chain gang who complains\ed that he sat around all day strumming his guitar. "Lead belly" seems to make sense.
But "Negro Songs As Sung By Leadbelly" came out by the Lomaxes.

I would think that the name would have negative connotations for him if he were alive today. He wanted to be treated as a concert artist rather than the "killer" in the prison stripes outfitted by Lomax. That was his debut image in Life Magazine some time back.

It was a freak-show type marketing device.

Later pictures show him in a suit and tie. Pete Seeger worshipped him and said that he was a gentle person. He called Billie Holiday an "evil woman".

Frank


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Subject: RE: Leadbelly or Lead Belly?
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 04 Jan 07 - 07:14 PM

I am as pedantic as the next man as a rule, but , do you really think Huddie gave a flying f*ck as to whether he was known as Lead Belly or Leadbelly ?

It was a nickname, fer chrissakes, it's not like he went to court to establish a new name, or anything.

Chances are he acquired the nickname in prison, and the rest of the prisoners probably didn't submit a petition to the State Legislature to establish a change of name.

Now , speculation as to whether his first name was pronounced HEWDY or HUDDIE, that is interesting, ...


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Subject: RE: Leadbelly or Lead Belly?
From: *guest*
Date: 04 Jan 07 - 08:50 PM

Yes, I will now use "Lead Belly" as per Huddie's own use of the title. I also prefer Leadbelly, but I will honor the great folksinger's preference.


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Subject: RE: Leadbelly or Lead Belly?
From: GUEST,George Campbell
Date: 02 May 08 - 05:47 PM

I e-mailed Roger McGuinn (of the Byrds) just after he played Glasgow (Scotland), including a Lead Belly number in his set. He assured me that this was the correct spelling and that he had this from the family.

I agree with others, though, that the nickname was probably used verbally for years before anyone wrote it down. Thus it is just a matter of usage in the same way some refer to the Tsar of Russia and others to the Czar. He also pronounced his first name two different ways.

My preference is for Hewdie on the basis that Ledbetter is a Scottish surname (many Scots were plantation owners) and the name may well have been taken from an owner called Hugh D Ledbetter.

It's just a thought.

PS. If you access the Scottish Daily Mail for 2nd May you'll see how inmates at Angola Prison occupy themselves today.


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Subject: RE: Leadbelly or Lead Belly?
From: mark gregory
Date: 02 May 08 - 10:02 PM

For what it's worth although the original spelling might have been "Lead Belly" I've only ever heard it pronounced as one word "Leadbelly" so that seems to me to be the better transcription.


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Subject: RE: Leadbelly or Lead Belly?
From: GUEST,The Foundation
Date: 14 Apr 11 - 11:45 PM

The correct was to spell it is Lead Belly. That is how he spelled it. This information is coming from the family of Huddie "Lead Belly" Ledbetter. That is why the Foundation spelled it that way. The foundation was founded by Queen "Tiny" Robinson who was his niece who lived with him and Martha until his death. Although many people spell it how they want to, the Official way is Lead Belly.


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Subject: RE: Leadbelly or Lead Belly?
From: Max
Date: 15 Apr 11 - 07:29 AM

My favorite kind of thread. You know, I got the idea to start mudcat because of my interest in Lead Belly. Also met Dick that way. I knew I was on to something a year or two later when a thread discussed the gauge of each of his 12 strings. I also like that the OP asks for no opinions then, of course, is followed by 50. And I just love conversations that span years.

Thanks for the info Foundation, I think that's about as close as we can get to the source. Lead Belly it is.

Oh, and I still want to be Lead Belly when I grow up.


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Subject: RE: Leadbelly or Lead Belly?
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 15 Apr 11 - 01:58 PM

Then again it could have aristocratic roots.

Huddie could have been related to Sir Montague Lead-Belly of Belsize Park and with an estate in Berkshire.


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Subject: RE: Leadbelly or Lead Belly?
From: GUEST,Blues Fan
Date: 09 Jun 11 - 11:42 PM

Lead Belly:Life, Legend, Legacy! A music documentary -- IndieGoGo
http://www.indiegogo.com/leadbellyfilm

Check out this link and help the Lead Belly Foundation bring this film to post-production. "Lead Belly: LIfe, Legend, Legacy" is the first full length documentary based on the life of American folk/blues musician Huddie "Lead Belly" Ledbetter. Lead Belly inspired everyone from the Beatles to Nirvana, but died before ever reaping the benefits of his fame.


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