The birth of Blues legend Huddie “Leadbelly” Ledbetter.
1885 (Mar 12)
Famous bluesman Huddie Ledbetter was born near Mooringsport, Louisiana, the son of farmers. Taught music by his mother and uncles, Ledbetter earned a reputation as the best guitar player and singer in Louisiana by the time he was sixteen. Nicknamed "Leadbelly" because of his strong base voice, he was deeply influenced by the talented blues singers who played in the red-light district of nearby Shreveport. He switched to a twelve-string guitar immediately after hearing one played. Between 1918 and 1934 Ledbetter's womanizing and volatility landed him in prison several times, and three times he escaped. After serving four years of a ten-year sentence, he was reprieved, thanks to a heartfelt plea for mercy and a recording of his song, "Irene, Good Night." Ledbetter continued to sing and record until his death from Lou Gehrig's disease in New York City.