Eddie KirklandView in iTunes
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How many Jamaican-born bluesmen recorded with John Lee Hooker and toured with Otis Redding? It's a safe bet there was only one: Eddie Kirkland, who engaged in some astonishing on-stage acrobatics over the decades (like standing on his head while playing guitar on TV's Don Kirshner's Rock Concert). But you would never find any ersatz reggae grooves cluttering Kirkland's work. He was brought up around Dothan, Alabama before heading north to Detroit in 1943. There he hooked up with Hooker five years later, recording with him for several labels as well as under his own name for RPM in 1952, King in 1953, and Fortune in 1959. Tru-Sound Records, a Prestige subsidiary, invited Kirkland to Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey in 1961-1962 to wax his first album, It's the Blues Man! The polished R&B band of saxophonist King Curtis intersected with Kirkland's intense vocals, raucous guitar, and harmonica throughout the exciting set. Exiting the Motor City for Macon, Georgia in 1962, Kirkland signed on with Otis Redding as a sideman and show opener not long thereafter. Redding introduced Kirkland to Stax/Volt co-owner Jim Stewart, who flipped over Eddie's primal dance workout "The Hawg." It was issued on Volt in 1963, billed to Eddie Kirk. By the dawn of the '70s, Kirkland was recording for Pete Lowry's Trix label; he also waxed several CDs for Deluge in the '90s. Kirkland remained active into the 21st century, and was in Florida to perform at a show in the Gulf Coast community of Dunedin when he died from injuries sustained when the automobile he was driving collided with a Greyhound bus in Crystal River on February 27, 2011. Eddie Kirkland was 87 years old. ~ Bill Dahl