b. Nelson Wilborn, 31 August 1907, Sumner, Mississippi, USA. Red Nelson was a Chicago-based vocalist, and possibly a guitarist, but not a pianist, despite frequent reports to that effect. He was given interesting and varied accompanists during his recording career, which began in 1935, and was a fine singer with a telling falsetto, although he often held himself emotionally in check, possibly to accommodate the 30s fashion for the laconic. His 1935/6 Decca recordings with Cripple Clarence Lofton, though less considered, are outstanding, with ‘Crying Mother Blues’ an unquestionable masterpiece, while his 1947 titles for Aladdin, with James Clark on piano, are almost as good. Last seen working with Muddy Waters in the 60s, Nelson was an amiable alcoholic with a penchant for double entendres, as might be inferred from the ebullient ‘Dirty Mother Fuyer’, which he recorded in 1947 under the pseudonym ‘Dirty Red’.
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