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Leroy Carr
Birth: Mar. 7, 1905
Nashville
Davidson County
Tennessee, USA
Death: Apr. 29, 1935
Indianapolis
Marion County
Indiana, USA

Blues Musician. He was a progenitor of "urban blues", a piano-driven style that differed from country blues in its cool restraint and sophistication. Carr wrote and recorded the first big hit of the genre, "How Long How Long Blues" (1928), and introduced such standards as "Blues Before Sunrise", "When the Sun Goes Down", "Prison Bound Blues", and "Hurry Down Blues". Throughout his sadly short career he performed with the accompaniment of guitarist Scrapper Blackwell. Carr was born in Nashville, Tennessee and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana. In his teens he taught himself piano and then left home to gain some life experience: he served in the army, got married (briefly), travelled with a circus, worked in a meat-packing plant. Around 1926 he drifted back to Indianapolis and became a bootlegger, having already acquired a fatal fondness for booze later noted in his famous lyric, "Whiskey is my habit, Women is all I crave". As a sideline he played piano at parties and speakeasies, but he did not consider himself a professional musician until he teamed up with Blackwell in 1928. They made an odd pair - Carr was gangling and affable, while the compact Blackwell wasn't nicknamed "Scrapper" for nothing. But together they created a distinct sound that blossomed into a mainstay of blues until the early 1950s. Carr wrote a lot of original material and sang it with a crooning conversational tone that suited his subdued pianism; Blackwell's guitar brilliantly danced around his vocals with more than a hint of jazz. For all practical purposes, urban blues was "born" on June 19, 1928, when Vocalion Records sent a crew to Indianapolis and produced Carr and Blackwell's debut single, "How Long How Long Blues". The song went through so many pressings the original metal masters wore out and the duo had to re-record it twice. For the next seven years Carr cut more than 120 sides for Vocalion and other labels, 114 of them with Blackwell. They were among the very few blues artists to prosper during the Depression, aided by performances in Indianapolis, Chicago, Louisville, Cincinnati, Nashville and, on one occasion in 1934, New York City. The same period saw city-style blues overtake country guitar blues in popularity with the race record market, and Carr stood poised for even greater success. It was not to be. By late 1934 his kidneys were shot from alcohol abuse and his voice grew strained, his lyrics grimmer. His song "Suicide Blues" (December 1934) pulls no punches on the subject. On February 25, 1935, Carr went to Chicago to lay down some sides for the Bluebird label; if he didn't know it would be his last recording session, he may well have suspected it. Blackwell was with him as usual but his final track was a solo number, the chilling farewell "Six Cold Feet In The Ground". Two months later Carr died of nephritis at 30. Devastated by the loss, Blackwell recorded a tribute song ("My Old Pal Blues", 1935) and then gave up music for over 20 years. Carr's body of work influenced generations of artists. Muddy Waters claimed "How Long How Long Blues" was the first blues song he learned to play, and musicians as diverse as Robert Johnson, Ray Charles, Big Bill Broonzy, T-Bone Walker, Nat King Cole, Count Basie, Otis Spann, The Rolling Stones, and Eric Clapton are indebted in one way or another. Carr was elected to the Blues Hall of Fame in 1982, and in 1988 "How Long How Long Blues" was inducted by that same institution as a "classic blues recording". In 1993, Indianapolis radio personalities Bob Kevoian and Tom Griswold helped raise funds to place a headstone on Carr's unmarked grave at Floral Park Cemetery. (bio by: Bobb Edwards) 
 
Burial:
Floral Park Cemetery
Indianapolis
Marion County
Indiana, USA
 
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Record added: Jan 01, 2001
Find A Grave Memorial# 2363
Leroy Carr
Added by: Bobb Edwards
 
Leroy Carr
Added by: Bobb Edwards
 
Leroy Carr
Added by: J.L. Durall
 
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