Louisiana Red, born Iverson Minter, far more than just played the blues – in essence, Louisiana Red WAS the blues.
Louisiana Red had been living the blues from his birth, March 23, 1932, struggling to survive in an unfair life of bad habits and ignorance that was spent on dirty streets, factories and country fields. Although he was born with adult obligations, he always carried in his heart the child that he never was.
He lost his mother to pneumonia one week after his birth. Five years later his father was lynched and killed by members of the Ku Klux Klan, leaving Red to endure a six-year period of rotating orphanages.
He was mistreated by his family, worked all kinds of heavy jobs, used by most of the women in his life and his so called friends, ripped of by record companies and “expert” fellow musicians. Louisiana Red paid a very expensive price for his dues. But he was bound and determined to survive.
At the age of 11, Red, then living with an aunt, began playing the guitar under the instruction of Crit Walters. While his early playing style mimicked that of Muddy Waters (who would be his mentor) and John Lee Hooker (with whom he would play extensively), he went on to develop an instinctive and creative style all his own.
Though he didn’t record under the name Louisiana Red until 1960, he worked with a number of labels under various aliases, played with every major bluesman of his time and contributed several great blues classics to blues heritage.
In 1976 Red moved to Germany and began avidly touring and recording throughout Europe. He made numerous live recordings with different European bands, which labeled him as “over recorded”, unfortunately denying him recording opportunities with major blues record labels.
In 1983 he received the W.C. Handy award for Best Traditional Blues Artist and in 1984 married his third and beloved wife, Dora, who remained by his side for the rest of his life.
More than twenty years after his departure from the United States, Red returned in 1997 for the first of several successful comeback tours.
Louisiana Red was one of the last of the great bluesmen to have learned from and played with the fathers and grandfathers of the blues. He was a vitally important pioneer of blues music, helping set the foundation for the genre during its formative years and kept the all-but-lost Delta Blues’ spontaneous composition tradition alive and well until his passing on February 25, 2012.
Louisiana Red was my dearly loved friend and is sorely missed.
Sweet dreams Sir Minter.
– John “Johnny Angel” Angelatos
About the recordings:
The songs in this album are especially unique and distinguished. Red is clearly feeling “at home” playing live on several tracks with “Guitar” Johnny Nicholas.and Bob Brozman – another great musician and friend who left us unexpectedly on April 23, 2013.
– “Working Mule”
March 1994 – Louisiana Red- vocals/guitar.
A song made for Red, but concerning all working people around the world.
– “The Sky Is Crying”
March 1994 with Louisiana Red – vocals/guitar and The George Pilali Band (G. Pilali- national steel slide – sazi, Vassilis Vassilatos – percussions, Michalis Diakogiorgis Santouri, George Vartis – bass, Dimitris Roumeliotis – tsabouna, Kostas Grambas – yali tanbûr).
– “Champagne And Reefer”
– “What Is That She Got?”
Two live takes of Muddy’s songs that Red loved deeply and decorates with thrilling guitar slide.
They were recorded live on March 2007 with the Blues Wire,
the band that played with him for over 30 years.
(Elias Zaikos – guitar, Sotiris Zissis – bass, Olek Chaly – piano, George Papazoglou – drums).
– “Do You Got Balls?”
May 1996 – with Louisiana Red- vocals/guitar.
– “Keep On Playin’ The Blues”
– “Locked Up So Long”
– “Good Bye Jack Dupree”
– “Early in The Morning”
These four tracks were recorded live during my blues radio show in Athens on December 1996 and it’s the one and only time that these two musicians had ever played together. Louisiana Red- vocals/guitar, Bob Brozman – national steel,
with George Pilali – national steel on “Keep On Playin’ The Blues”.
– “You Done Quit Me”
– “I Wonder Who”
Live in Athens on March 2002 with the Blues Wire (Elias Zaikos – guitar, Sotiris Zissis – bass,
George Bandoek Apostolakis – harp).
– “I Done Woke Up”
– “Same Thing”
Recorded Live at the island of Skiathos on July 1997.
Louisiana Red vocals / guitar and harmonica on “I Done Woke Up”,
Johnny Nicholas – piano/vocals and The Backbone (Nick Dounoussis – guitar, George Athanas – bass,
George Papazoglou – drums.
– “Too Poor To Die”
Recorded live on Red’s birthday – 23 March 2007 at the end of an electric show, eases the passion of the night and draws the image by which Red is fondly remembered – sensitive, simple and true.
Special thanks to Dora Minter for being there all of the time, Bob Brozman, Johnny Nicholas, Blues Wire, The Backbone, George Pilali and Richard Chalk for making this album possible and to everyone who loved and supported Louisiana Red for all these years.