Re: [Harp-L] Willie Dixon Controversy

James wrote:
This is not just the Blues. Larry Adler's book "It isn't Necessarily So" contains numerous tales, none of which can be collaborated by a third party: His meeting with Al Capone in a Speak Easy on a Friday Night. His affair with Ingrid Bergman are my favorites. I remember well a evening at the Garden State Harmonica Club November meeting when I had a chance to talk about these tales with some of the old Vaudeville folks. Nobody believed any of them.

One of the best things about Adler's book is that he starts with a story and then tells someone else's memory of the same incident, which is entirely the opposite. A brilliant way to begin a memoir. A disclaimer of all memory.

I'll tell you one that is similar. Jerry Leiber (again with Leiber, can't I drop another name?) (I once met Winslow Yerxa) was very big on singers with distinctive styles, as you might imagine. He told me that when Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich started working with Neil Diamond (they were working for Jerry) Diamond was a demo singer who could sing in anybody's style, but had none of his own. Jerry said it took them a year to develop a distinctive style for Neil Diamond.

A few years after Jerry told me this I mentioned it to a friend who engineered at the top demo studio in the 60's before becoming a top master engineer and producer. He told me that the truth was just the opposite, that Neil Diamond had such a distinctive personal style when he arrived on the scene as a demo singer that he often sang demos better than the artists they were intended for. He loved working with Neil Diamond on demos.

Now, both Jerry Leiber and my engineer pal have unbelieveably good ears for such things. I have tried for a long time to reconcile the two points of view - they are talking about the exact same years, for instance. Neither of these cats had any reason to tell me anything other than what they thought was the truth. They were both friends and admirers of Diamond.

So there are alot of stories about who wrote what blues song, who adapted it, what 'writing a song' meant to blues singers back in the 20's, what it meant to other blues singers in the 30's. Paul Oliver pointed out that Blind Boy Fuller's 'Cat Man Blues' was descended from the English Child ballad "Our Gudeman."

I loved learning, in this thread, that somebody other than Rice Miller may have made him use the name Sonny Boy Williamson, as I had always imagined he came up with that scam himself. I'll bet that story NEVER gets resolved. There's too much truth to go around, and not enough.

What harm is done? Is Robert Johnson less a genius because of this. Is Robert Lockwood Jr, less a musician because of this? Is Larry Adler less a musician because of this? I think not.

Question for the group. Back in the 60's, wasn't Robert Lockwood Jr referred to as Robert Junior Lockwood, the Robert Junior referring to his claim that Robert Johnson treated him like a son?

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