.

T-Model Ford, Blues Singer, Dead at 93

Mississippi native remembered as 'a master of old-school blues'

T-Model Ford performs in Dorset, United Kingdom.
Andy Sheppard/Redferns
July 17, 2013 9:50 AM ET

T-Model Ford, a Mississippi singer and guitarist who took up the blues later in life, died yesterday of respiratory failure at home in Greenville. Ford claimed to be 93, though The Associated Press reports that he didn't recall what year he was born and may have been 89.

Ford took up the guitar when he was 58, after his fifth wife left him, and began playing blues at private parties around Greenville in western Mississippi. "He'd play late, then he'd spray himself with a bunch of mosquito spray and sleep in his van," said longtime friend Roger Stolle. 

President Obama Riffs on Rock Stars: The Blues 

During his career as a blues artist, Ford recorded seven albums, and was known for his rough-hewn sound and whiskey-fueled live performances. Ford could be playful on stage, and often interacted with attractive couples in the crowd.

"He'd say, 'You'd better put your stamp on her because if she flags my train, I'm going to let her ride,'" Stolle said. 

Born James Lewis Carter Ford, it's not clear how he ended up with the nickname "T-Model." According to a record label bio, Ford was plowing fields behind a mule by the time he was 11. He also worked at a saw mill, as a truck driver and in a logging camp, and was said to have been sentenced to 10 years on a chain gang for murder when he was a young man. He released his first album, Pee-Wee Get My Gun, on Fat Possum in 1997.

"His music would take you right back to the heart and soul of the Delta, back in the day," said Bill Luckett who co-owns Greenville's Ground Zero Blues Club. He called Ford "a master of old school blues."

Ford was married six times, and is said to have fathered 26 children. 

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

prev
Music Main Next

blog comments powered by Disqus
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.

X

We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Hungry Like the Wolf”

Duran Duran | 1982

This indulgent New Romantic group generated their first U.S. hit with the help of what was at the time new technology. "Simon [Le Bon] and I, I think, had been out the night before and had this terrible hangover," said keyboardist Nick Rhodes. "For some reason we were feeling guilty about it and decided to go and do some work." Rhodes started playing with his Jupiter-8 synth, and then "Simon had an idea for a lyric, and by lunchtime when everyone else turned up, we pretty much had the song." The Simmons drumbeat was equally important to the sound of "Hungry Like the Wolf," as Duran Duran drummer Roger Taylor stated it "kind of defined the drum sound for the Eighties."

More Song Stories entries »
 
www.expandtheroom.com