b. Roosevelt Thomas Williams, 7 December 1903, Bastrop, Texas, USA, d. 17 July 1996. For blues researchers, Williams lived up to his nickname for most of his life, known only as a reported influence on Mercy Dee. Williams hoboed around the south-west performing from the 20s to the late 40s, until he settled in Austin. He was recorded by a folklorist in 1940 (‘Hitler Blues’) and was also recorded after his retirement in 1965. None of these recordings were issued until 1987. Despite an out-of-tune piano, he was clearly a major player in the tradition of the ‘Santa Fe’ group that included Robert Shaw, Buster Pickens and Pinetop Burks. Grey also had a working pianist’s repertoire of ballads and pop songs. Recorded again in 1988, he played a remarkably strident version of ‘Somebody Stole My Gal’, which, though slower, was still very impressive. (NB: Not to be confused with the jazz duo of the same name.)
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