Henry Stuckey

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Henry Stuckey was the accidental founder of the so-called Bentonia tradition of country blues. Born in 1897 in Bentonia, MS, Stuckey learned an open E minor guitar tuning from black Bahamian soldiers…
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Henry Stuckey was the accidental founder of the so-called Bentonia tradition of country blues. Born in 1897 in Bentonia, MS, Stuckey learned an open E minor guitar tuning from black Bahamian soldiers while serving in France during World War I, and upon returning home in 1919, incorporated the tuning into his playing, eventually teaching it to a younger guitar player, Skip James, around 1924. James featured the tuning on several of the 18 sides he recorded for Paramount in 1931, recordings that became treasured by blues scholars, historians, and collectors for their distinctive plaintive and eerie sound. A handful of guitarists in the Bentonia region took up the tuning, including Jack Owens and Cornelius Bright, as well as Stuckey and James, and songs like "Hard Times," "Cherry Ball," "Devil Blues," and the eight-bar fiddle tune "Drunken Spree" formed the repertoire of a distinct local blues tradition. Stuckey, unfortunately, was never recorded, although he was interviewed by blues researchers in the mid-'60s, at which time he described teaching the tuning and picking style to James and others. Henry Stuckey died of cancer in 1966.