Bumble Bee Slim
Cephas & Wiggins
Davis, Rev. Gary
Fuller, Blind Boy
Holeman, John Dee
Howell, Peg Leg
McTell, Blind Willie
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 (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)
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.
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.
All Music Guide to the Blues, 3rd ed. Ed. by Vladimir Bogdanov, Chris Woodstra, and Stephen Thomas Erlewine. San Francisco: Backbeat Books, 2003.
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
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
All Music Guide. Accessed December 10,
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/
Atlanta Blues Society. Accessed December 8, 2003 <http://www.atlantabluessociety.com/>