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R.L. Burnside

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R.L. Burnside


Forget those dolled-up, pentagram-sportin', tattooed rock 'n' rollers that comprise his audience of late -- the bona fide bad-ass is up onstage. You wanna talk hard livin'-- nothing beats the real life rigmarole of old bluesmen like R.L. Burnside. Coming out of the deep South in the 1930s, Burnside was one of the artists featured in Richard Grant's article on the wild lives of elder bluesmen on Fat Possum Records in the March 27, 1999, edition of British daily The Daily Telegraph. It said that Burnside went to prison in the 1940s for murder. He allegedly shot a man in the back of the head, but only served three months thanks to a plantation owner who needed Burnside to work the next planting season. A grimly practical Burnside told his label, "I didn't mean to kill nobody. I just meant to shoot the sonofabitch in the head. Him dying was between him and the Lord." As rugged and rowdy as his reputation, Burnside's overdriven Delta Blues slide guitar playing is fierce and blistering. His singing is heartfelt, though often mumbled and slurred. Live shows chug along like a steam engine overheating. His massive cult following comes in all shapes and sizes.
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