Horn Lake to replace big blues scorer Big Walter Horton | News

Horn Lake will replace a historic marker commemorating Big Walter Horton, great blues and native of Horn Lake, which was accidentally knocked over and damaged.

The marker was placed on Center Street along the Illinois and Central Railroads by the Mississippi Blues Trail in June 2008 near the plantation where Horton was born in 1918.

Horton, who died in 1981, is recognized as one of the greatest blues harmonica players of all time and one of the main creators of the “Chicago sound” of urban blues.

Mayor Allen Latimer said they didn’t know what happened to the marker, but found it had been knocked down and needed to be replaced.

“It wasn’t vandalized or anything like that,” Latimer said. “Our team is mowing around the sign and may have hit and knocked it over. Either way, it was just an accident.

The city has agreed to spend $ 3,597 on a new marker.

Latimer, who was on the county board when the marker was consecrated, said he didn’t know much about Horton at the time, but came to appreciate his talent as he went. and as he read and heard from him.

“I didn’t really know anything about him until they put that marker on,” Latimer said. “But I read a lot about him and how he was one of the best harmonica players of his time. He played with quite important artists. I’m really proud to say he was from Horn Lake.

DeSoto County Museum curator Robert Long, who covered the dedication ceremony as a reporter, recalled how another Mississippi blues legend who knew Horton was there that day.

“Honeyboy” Edwards, who was 93 at the time and very famous himself, took the Amtrak train from Chicago just to pay homage to his friend, “Long said.

Blues Hall of Fame guitarist and singer Edwards first met Horton in 1935 when he was 19 and Horton was 17 and struck up a friendship that lasted 70 years.

“He was the best,” Edwards said in 2008. “He was quite simply the best harp player I knew – and I knew a lot of good ones.”

Horton was born on April 6, 1918 in Horn Lake, but his mother then moved him to Memphis where he learned to play the harmonica on his own at the age of 5. At age 9, he was playing for tips on street corners in Memphis and recorded with the famous Memphis. Jug Band in 1927. Horton spent his early years roaming the Delta playing the dance and picnic circuit at house parties, fish fries, and juke joints.

Horton moved to Chicago in the 1940s where he performed as a sideman for other blues legends like Jimmy Rogers, Otis Rush, Willie Dixon and Muddy Waters, which defined the Chicago-style urban blues sound. He was one of the first blues artists to record for producer Sam Phillips at Sun Records in Memphis in the early 1950s. “When Big Walter was playing, the blues would hit you,” Phillips said.

Big Walter was a shy, calm man who expressed himself through his music, with solos that could last ten minutes or more. He was content to be a sideman and made very few solo recordings, but his backup harmonica solos can be heard on many great blues recordings.

“He was extremely talented,” said Long, a blues fan. “He could play a harp like no other.

Big Walter traveled across the United States and Europe and enjoyed late career success as the blues gained popularity with white audiences in the 1960s and actively performed at blues clubs and festivals in the 1970s until his death at the age of 63 in 1981.

Long said Big Walter would be included with other blue performers in a blues garden that the DeSoto County Convention and Visitors Bureau Tourism Association is planning in the spring.

“We are planning a blues garden with cobblestone markers with engraved names of blues artists to commemorate them,” Long said. “Big Walter will be among them. He was truly a national treasure and is a treasure for Horn Lake for sure. “

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