Mississippi Sheiks

Active 1930s; formed 1926 in Jackson, MS; disbanded 1930's.

Band Members: Bo Chatmon, Lonnie Chatmon, Sam Chatmon, Walter Vinson, Bo Carter.

Styles, String Bands, Pre-War Country Blues, Acoustic Blues, Country Blues.

This musical combination flourished between 1930 and 1935, during which time they recorded more than 80 tracks for various 'race' labels. The Sheiks was a string band made up of members and friends of the Chatmon family, and included Lonnie Chatmon aka Lonnie Chatman/Lonnie Carter (guitar/violin), Sam Chatmon aka Sam Chatman/Sam Carter (January 10, 1897 in Bolton, MS, d. February 2, 1983 in Hollandale, MS; guitar), Walter Vincson aka Walter Vinson/Walter Jacobs (b. February 2, 1901 in Bolton, MS, d. April 22, 1975 in Chicago, IL; guitar/violin), Bo Carter (b. Armenter Chatmon, March 21, 1893 in Bolton, MS, d. September 21, 1964 in Memphis, TN; guitar), and Charlie McCoy (b. 1909, USA, d. 1950; banjo/mandolin). Vocal chores were handled by all the members. Most of these individuals pursued independent musical careers either at this time or later. The instrumental abilities of all members were extremely high and their repertoire covered all ground between popular waltzes to salacious party songs, with a fair quantity of high-quality blues thrown in. Their most famous songs included 'Sitting On Top Of The World', 'Stop And Listen' and 'The World Is Going Wrong'. Their work also appeared under the names the Mississippi Mud Steppers, the Down South Boys and the Carter Brothers. Surviving members Sam Chatmon and Walter Vinson revived the band in the early 70s, recording an album with Carl Martin (fiddle/mandolin) and Ted Bogan (bass) as the New Mississippi Sheiks.

Mississippi Sheiks Biography by Joslyn Layne

The Mississippi Sheiks were one of the most popular string bands of the late '20s and early '30s. Formed in Jackson around 1926, the band blended country and blues fiddle music -- both old-fashioned and risqué -- and included guitarist Walter Vinson and fiddler Lonnie Chatmon, with frequent appearances by guitarists Bo Carter and Sam Chatmon, who were also busy with their own solo careers. The musicians were the sons of Ezell Chatmon, uncle of Charlie Patton and leader of an area string band that was popular around the turn of the century. The Mississippi Sheiks (who took their name from the Rudolph Valentino movie The Sheik) began recording for Okeh in 1930 and had their first and biggest success with "Sitting on Top of the World," which was a crossover hit and multi-million seller. In fact, the song became a national standard and has been recorded by Howlin' Wolf, Ray Charles and many more. The Mississippi Sheiks' popularity peaked in the early '30s, and their final recording session happened in 1935 for the Bluebird label. By the end of their career, the prolific and influential string band had recorded well over 60 songs, including the successful "Stop and Listen."