Buddy Moss

by Victoria Bush, UNC Asheville Student

 


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Moss playing in Atlanta, c. mid-1960s. From Paul Oliver's The Story of the Blues (Book Club Associates, 1972).



Photo by Julie Snow. From Seldon Harris's Blues Who's 
Who
(Arlington House, 1979).


Full name:
Eugene Moss 

Other names: "Buddy," "Gene" 

Born: Jan 26, 1914, in Jewell, Georgia

Died: October 19, 1984, in Atlanta, Georgia 

Instrument: Harmonica, Guitar (and vocals) 

Biographical Sketch 

Buddy Moss, born Eugene Moss, was born in 1914 in Jewell, Georgia. He was one of twelve children from a sharecropping family in Warren county. When he was four years old his family moved to Augusta, Georgia, where he taught himself how to play the harmonica in order to entertain people at parties. He spent the next ten years in Augusta until he picked up and moved to Atlanta where he met up with the likes of Barbecue Bob and Curley Weaver. They were impressed with Moss's aptitude on the harmonica at such a young age, and Moss accompanied them with the Georgia Cotton Pickers in a recording session at the Campbell Hotel in Atlanta in December 1930. This was Moss's first recording experience ever. Moss stayed busy in the next three years teaching himself how to play the guitar and in January 1933, Moss put out his own record through the American Recording Company in New York City. 

Paul Oliver said, "His first titles revealed him as a competent guitarist with a swinging style that made effective use of bass string rhythms and of raising a note by 'hammering on.'" This first recording session consisted of eleven tunes, and by mid-September 1933 he was recording another twelve songs. This time, however, Curley Weaver and Blind Willie McTell were accompanying him. The summer of 1934 saw Moss outselling everyone in the industry and continued to do that when he teamed up with Josh White in 1935. Moss was arrested that year however for either murdering his wife or fighting to the death with one of his rivals, depending on which source you read. He was released from the Georgia prison system six years later due to good behavior and a good word from James Baxter Long, Blind Boy Fuller's "manager." This may have been due to the fact that Blind Boy Fuller was dying and Long needed another star. 

Moss moved to Elon College, west of Burlington, North Carolina, where he worked and lived in Long's home, working in the fields during the weekdays and in Long's store on the weekends. When World War II commenced and the government banned the use of shellac used in 78 rpm discs, the industry collapsed. This created a huge decline in recorded blues during this period. Moss worked odd jobs through the rest of his life such as elevator conductor, truck driver, and tobacco farmer. In 1964, however, Moss visited Josh White at one of his concerts at Emory College. Moss was recognized by the academics there and asked to play in festivals such as the Newport Folk Festival in 1966 and the Atlanta Blues and Grass Roots Festival in 1976. Moss had had a hard life and did not wish to continue touring. Eugene Moss died October 19, 1984, in Atlanta, Georgia.

Books 

Bastin, Bruce. Crying for the Carolines. London: Studio Vista, 1971 

Bastin, Bruce. Red River Blues: The Blues Tradition in the Southeast. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1986. 

Charters, Samuel Barclay. Sweet as the Showers of Rain. Oak Publications, 1977. Contained in the reprint The Blues Makers. New York: Da Capo Press, 1991.

Hart, Mary L., Brenda M. Eagles, and Lisa N. Howorth. The Blues: A Bibliographical Guide. Intro. by William Ferris. New York: Garland, 1989. 

Herzhaft, Gerard. Encyclopedia of the Blues. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1992. 

Harris, Sheldon. Blues Who's Who: A Biographical Dictionary of Blues Singers. New Rochelle, NY: Arlington House, 1979. 

Oliver, Paul, ed. The Blackwell Guide to Blues Records. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell Reference, 1989.

Discographies

All Music Guide to the Blues, 3rd ed. Ed. by Vladimir Bogdanov, Chris Woodstra, and Stephen Thomas Erlewine. San Francisco: Backbeat Books, 2003. <http://www.allmusic.com>

Articles 

Springer, Robert. "So I said 'The Hell With It': A Difficult Interview with Eugene 'Buddy' Moss." Blues Unlimited 117 (January/ Febuary 1976): 18-21. 

Peabody, Dave "Georgia Days." Folk Roots 18 (August/September 1996): 39-41

Recordings on CD 

Buddy Moss 1933-1935. Document Records. DOCD 5123 

Buddy Moss: The Essential. Document Records.CBL-200029 

Josh White: The Essential. Document Records. CBL-200005 

Atlanta Blues Legend Live. Biograph Records. 139

Web Sites

All Music Guide. Accessed December 10, 2003. <http://www.allmusic.com>

Document Records. Accessed December 8, 2003 <http://www.document-records.co.uk/

Blues Lyrics Online; Buddy Moss. Accessed December 8, 2003 <http://www.geocities.com/BourbonStreet/Delta/2541/
blbmoss.htm
>

Atlanta Blues Society. Accessed December 8, 2003 <http://www.atlantabluessociety.com/>



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Last updated 18 December 2003.