Blues Legend Eddie Kirkland: 1923-2011

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Billboard reports that on Sunday morning, Eddie Kirkland, known as the “Gypsy of the Blues,” was driving on U.S. 98 in Florida when a Greyhound bus hit his Ford Taurus, eventually causing his death. He was 87.

Kirkland was trying to make U-turn when the bus hit his car, causing both vehicles to travel an additional 200 yards before stopping. He later died at Tampa General Hospital after being flown in from the site of the accident.

Kirkland was born in Jamaica and raised in Alabama. At the age of 12, Kirkland joined the Sugar Girls Medicine Show before moving to Indiana and then Detroit, joining and then being discharged from the U.S. Army in between. After meeting at a house party and then splitting up in the ‘60s, Kirkland and John Lee Hooker recorded and toured together for seven-and-a-half years with Kirkland as Hooker’s road manager during that time.

Afterwards, Kirkland performed with Otis Redding and worked with Ruth Brown, Little Richard, Little Johnnie Taylor and numerous additional high-quality musicians.

Kirkland recorded Front and Center and The Devil and Other Blues Demons in the early ‘70s before spending 12 years in Hudson Valley. During that span, he appeared on Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert with Muddy Waters, Honeyboy Edwards, and Foghat.

Have Mercy was a 1983 creation later reissued on Evidence. Kirkland later met Randy Labbe, which lead to three albums: All Around the World, Some Like It Raw and Where you get your Sugar?.

His latest album, Democrat Blues, was released in 2004 on Blue Suit Records.

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