Henry Sloan

Henry Sloan

Henry Sloan (b. January 1870 - d. ?) was an African American musician, one of the earliest figures in the history of Delta Blues. Very little is known for certain about his life, other than he tutored Charlie Patton in the ways of the blues, and moved to Chicago shortly after World War I. There are no recordings of him.

According to researcher David Evans [ [http://paramountshome.creativeconnectionarts.com/index.php?name=News&file=article&sid=21 Charley Patton Biography (part 1) - Dr. David Evans : : ParamountsHome ] ] , Sloan was born in Mississippi in 1870, and by 1900 was living in the same community as the Patton and Chatmon families near Bolton, Mississippi. He moved to the Dockery Plantation near Indianola about the same time as the Pattons, between 1901 and 1904. Patton received some direct instruction from Sloan, and played with him for several years. Two of Patton’s later accompanists, Tommy Johnson and Son House, both stated that Patton "dogged every step" of Sloan’s [ [http://www.historicaltextarchive.com/sections.php?op=viewarticle&artid=410 Articles: The Origins of the Mississippi Delta Blues - Historical Text Archive ] ] .

One unprovable possibility is that Sloan was the mysterious hobo observed by musician W.C. Handy playing guitar at Tutwiler train station in 1903. Handy wrote in his autobiography of being awakened by "... a lean, loose-jointed Negro [who] had commenced plucking a guitar beside me while I slept. His clothes were rags; his feet peeped out of his shoes. His face had on it some of the sadness of the ages. As he played, he pressed a knife on the strings of the guitar. ... The effect was unforgettable... The singer repeated the line ("Goin' where the Southern cross the Dog") three times, accompanying himself on the guitar with the weirdest music I had ever heard."


* [http://www.cibs.org/legends/delta1.htm Delta Blues, part one] Central Iowa Blues Society, URL accessed February 20, 2006

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