Johnny Parth

The continued preservation of traditional prewar American blues is due in large part to the efforts of producer Johnny Parth, who through his Document label compiled and reissued literally thousands of classic sides long unavailable to all but the most diligent collectors. Born December 12, 1923, in Vienna, Austria, Parth founded Document to reissue the complete known recorded works of key blues artists, typically releasing his material in multi-volume, chronologically ordered sets; working with collectors and historians the world over to assemble his projects, he typically skipped figures properly treated by major-label reissue programs -- artists like Robert Johnson and Bessie Smith -- to instead focus on lesser-known but vastly influential figures including Blind Blake, Memphis Minnie, Blind Boy Fuller, Sonny Boy Williamson, and Big Bill Broonzy. The irony of an Austrian native assuming caretaker duties over one of America's richest musical traditions aside, Parth's dedication assures that the earliest and rarest blues sides will be available to historians and casual fans alike well into the next century. ~ Jason Ankeny