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The Traditional Delta and Country Blues

Henry "Son" Sims

Henry Sims, b. August 22, 1890 in Anguilla, MS, d. December 23, 1958 in Memphis, TN, Delta blues fiddler and songwriter. He is best known as an accompanist for Charley Patton and the young Muddy Waters.

Sims was born in Anguilla, Mississippi, the only son of five children. He learned to play the fiddle from his grandfather. Sims saw active service in France during World War I, whilst serving in the US Army. Sims went on to be the leader of the Mississippi Corn Shuckers, a rural string ensemble, and played with them for a number of years. He joined his childhood friend Charley Patton in a recording session for Paramount Records in Grafton, Wisconsin, in June 1929. Sims accompanied Patton on fiddle on thirteen tracks, including "Elder Greene Blues", "Going to Move to Alabama" and "Devil Sent the Rain Blues"; and recorded four of his own songs, including "Tell Me Man Blues", his best-known composition, and "Farrell Blues". He played alongside Patton at times until the Patton's death in 1934, when Sims returned to working on a plantation. By then he could also play the mandolin, guitar and piano. On August 28, 1941, Sims accompanied Muddy Waters in a recording session under the direction of Alan Lomax, as part of his recordings for the Library of Congress. In the 1940s, Sims also accompanied Robert Nighthawk on several occasions. He continued a solo career into the 1950s. Sims died following renal surgery in December 1958 in Memphis, Tennessee, at the age of 68. He was buried in an unmarked grave in Bell Grove Baptist Church Cemetery, in Clarksdale, Coahoma County, Mississippi.


by Joslyn Layne
Delta bluesman Henry "Son" Sims is best known as the fiddler who played with Charley Patton. Born in Anguilla, Mississippi in 1890, Sims was taught to play the violin by his grandfather, a former slave named Warren Scott. He eventually learned to play the mandolin, guitar and piano, as well. Although he led a rural string band called the Mississippi Corn Shuckers for several years, the first recording that Sims did was with Patton, who asked him to come along to Wisconsin for a 1929 Paramount session. Sims also recorded under his own name on two separate occasions -- during the Patton session when he cut four songs, including "Tell Me Man Blues," and several years later with guitarist and singer McKinley Morganfield, (who later became known as Muddy Waters).