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Robert Nighthawk
Original name: Robert McCollum
Birth: Nov. 30, 1909
Helena
Phillips County
Arkansas, USA
Death: Nov. 5, 1967
Helena
Phillips County
Arkansas, USA

Blues Musician. A superb slide guitarist, he provided a crucial link between acoustic Delta Blues and electric Chicago Blues. He was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1983. Nighthawk was born Robert Lee McCollum in Helena, Arkansas, into a musical family. The first instrument he learned was the harmonica, after which he was taught guitar by his cousin Houston Stackhouse. From age 23 he lived the archetypal life of an itinerant bluesman, first roaming the Mississippi Delta and then getting as far east as Florida, never staying in one place for long. In 1935 he ran afoul of the law in Louisiana - "It was somethin' about a pistol", recalled Stackhouse - and fled to St. Louis, Missouri, changing his name to Robert Lee McCoy. He used several other pseudonyms (the most fitting being "Rambling Bob") before settling on Robert Nighthawk, derived from one of his earliest recordings, the popular "Prowling Night-Hawk" (1937). The St. Louis period was his most prolific in the studio, resulting in 26 sides for the Bluebird and Decca labels, among them the fine "Friars Point Blues" (1940). A stay in Chicago from 1940 to 1941 - the first of many for him over the next quarter century - was pivotal. Inspired by Tampa Red and the city's more sophisticated blues scene, Nighthawk switched to electric guitar and perfected his silky smooth slide technique. He brought this new sound with him back to Helena, spreading it to the Delta through frequent performances on KFFA radio's "Bright Star Flour Hour" (1942 to 1947) and occasional broadcasts over WROX out of Clarksdale, Mississippi and WDIA in Memphis. Another spate of recordings for Chicago's Aristocrat/Chess and United labels produced his best known songs, "Annie Lee Blues", "Black Angel Blues" (both 1949), "The Moon is Rising" and "Crying Won't Help You" (both 1951), but he was soon on the road again fronting a band called The Nighthawks, with his son Sam Carr on drums. In 1964 he was recorded and interviewed for Mike Shea's documentary "And This Is Free" (1965), about Chicago's famous Maxwell Street open air market where Nighthawk liked to play every summer. Little of his material made it into the film and the visual outtakes were destroyed, but the preserved audio tracks would prove crucial for his posthumous reputation. His last recording session (August 1967) reunited him with Stackhouse, though by then he was limited to playing bass due to a heart ailment. He died in Helena three months later at 57. A popular performer in the South, Nighthawk never achieved widespread fame because of his restless nature. His sporadic activities in radio and recordings were chiefly to promote his preferred life of juke joint one-nighters and busking. During his travels he seems to have met or played with most of the blues greats of his time, from Charley Patton and Robert Johnson to Muddy Waters and B. B. King, and managed to influence a generation of blues guitarists. The acclaimed 1980 LP release of "Robert Nighthawk: Live on Maxwell Street 1964", showing him at the peak of his mature mastery, no doubt helped get him into the BHOF. A greatly expanded and corrected edition was issued as "And This Is Maxwell Street" (1999). His scattered discography may still hold hidden treasures: five previously unknown singles he recorded in Toronto, Canada in 1965 surfaced in 2006. (bio by: Bobb Edwards) 
 
Family links: 
 Children:
  Sam Carr (1926 - 2009)*
  Samuel Lee Carr (1926 - 2009)*
 
*Calculated relationship
 
Burial:
Magnolia Cemetery
Magnolia
Phillips County
Arkansas, USA
 
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: K
Record added: Oct 09, 2007
Find A Grave Memorial# 22049709
Robert Nighthawk
Added by: Bobb Edwards
 
Robert Nighthawk
Added by: Connie Nisinger
 
Robert Nighthawk
Added by: Connie Nisinger
 
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