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The Traditional Delta and Country Blues

Sam Collins

Sam Collins b. August 11, 1887 in Louisiana, d. October 20, 1949 in Chicago, IL, who was sometimes known as Crying Sam Collins and also, according to one authoritative website, as Jim Foster, Jelly Roll Hunter, Big Boy Woods, Bunny Carter, and Salty Dog Sam, was an early blues singer and guitarist.

He was born in Louisiana, United States, and grew up just across the state border in McComb, Mississippi. By 1924 he was performing in local barrelhouses, often with King Solomon Hill with whom he shared the use of falsetto singing and slide guitar. He was first recorded by Gennett Records, on "Yellow Dog Blues", in 1927, and recorded again in 1931, some of his later recordings appearing under different pseudonyms. His rural bottleneck guitar pieces were among the first to be compiled on LP. His best known recording was "The Jail House Blues". He relocated to Chicago, Illinois, in the late 1930s, and died there from the effects of heart disease in October 1949, at the age of 62.


by Jim O'Neal
One of the earliest generation of blues performers, Collins developed his style in South Mississippi (as opposed to the Delta). His recording debut single ("The Jail House Blues," 1927) predated those of legendary Mississippians such as Charley Patton and Tommy Johnson and was advertised as "Crying Sam Collins and his Git-Fiddle." Collins did not become a major name in blues -- in fact his later records appeared under several different pseudonyms, most notably the name Jim Foster -- but his rural bottleneck guitar pieces were among the first to be compiled on LP when the country-blues reissue era was just beginning. Sam Charters wrote in The Bluesmen: "Although Collins was not one of the stylistic innovators within the Mississippi blues idiom, he was enough part of it that, in blues like 'Signifying Blues' and 'Slow Mama Slow,' he had some of the intensity of the Mississippi music at its most creative level."