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September 27, 1912 – W. C. Handy publishes “Memphis Blues”, considered the 1st blues song

September 27, 1912: “Father of the Blues” W.C. Handy published “Memphis Blues,” what is believed to be the first commercially successful blues song. An Alabama native, Handy had moved to Clarksdale, Mississippi, in 1902, where he was exposed to a strange new music. A few years later, he moved to Memphis, where he became part of the Beale Street music scene. He combined the styles of different performers and helped to give the blues its contemporary form.

Mr. Crump

Subtitled "Mr. Crump", "The Memphis Blues" is said to be based on a campaign song written by Handy for Edward Crump, a mayoral candidate in Memphis, Tennessee. Handy claimed credit for writing "Mr. Crump", but Memphis musicians say it was written by Handy's clarinetist, Paul Wyer. Many musicologists question how much "Mr. Crump" actually shared with "The Memphis Blues", since the words, taken from an old folk song, "Mama Don' 'low", do not match up with the melody of "The Memphis Blues". Many think "Mr. Crump" was probably the same song as "Mr. Crump Don't Like It", later recorded by Frank Stokes of the Beale Street Sheiks (Paramount Race series, September 1927).

According to a member of Handy's band, S. L. "Stack" Mangham, the tune copyrighted by Handy in 1912 was based on one heard by Handy at a dance in Cleveland, Mississippi around 1903, when it was played by a three-piece string band now known to have been led by Prince McCoy.

Do you have what it takes to sit on the CVBS Board?

Our current VP, Jon Spear, has "officially" retired from the CVBS board this summer.  We are very grateful to Jon for his hard work and contributions, and we're now looking for a well-organized blues-lover to step in to continue his work.  The main responsibility of the VP is to attend board meetings, to contribute advice and expertise as a member of the CVBS Board, and tp step in if the president makes a hasty departure to Haiti :-).  If you're interested, please send an email to

More News from CVBS ...


  • No Dues in 2021 —  No dues for the time being.  But please, let's each make it a goal in 2021 to get one person to join CVBS! 

  • BluesFest 2022 — The board announced last night it's intent to begin planning our Blues Festival for Summer of 2022. Ex-Prez Andy Burdesky will continue to be the main planner for this event, and all CVBS members are encouraged to take part and make suggestions to help make next years big event happen!

  • We've agreed to concentrate on jams for the remainder of 2021, and to have our annual Christmas party in December. Stay tuned for more details..or watch our Facebook page..

© 2020 by Central Virginia Blues Society
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