Robert Lockwood Jr. Biography
Robert Lockwood Jr., also known as Robert Jr Lockwood, (born March 27, 1915) is an American blues guitarist who recorded for Chess Records in the 1950s and 1960s. He was a longtime collaborator and Chess Records studio guitarist for Sonny Boy Williamson II.
Robert Lockwood Jr. was born in Turkey Scratch, a hamlet west of Helena, Arkansas. He started playing the organ in his father's church at the age of 8. The famous bluesman Robert Johnson lived with Lockwood's mother for 10 years off and on after his parents' divorce. Lockwood learned from Johnson not only how to play guitar, but timing and stage presence as well.
By age 15, Lockwood was playing professionally at parties in the Helena area. He often played with his quasi-stepfather figure, Johnson, but also occasionally with Rice Miller (Sonny Boy Williamson II) or Johnny Shines. Lockwood played at fish fries, juke joints, and street corners throughout the Mississippi Delta in the 1930s. An anecdote from Lockwood's website claims that on one occasion Robert Johnson played on one side of the Sunflower River, while Lockwood played on the other, with the people of Clarksville, Mississippi milling about the bridge, unable to tell which guitarist was the real Robert Johnson.
Lockwood played with Sonny Boy Williamson II (Rice Miller) in the Clarksdale, Mississippi area in 1938 and 1939. He also played with Howlin' Wolf and others in Memphis, Tennessee around 1938. From 1939 to 1940 he split his time playing in St. Louis, Missouri, Chicago, Illinois and Helena.
In 1941, Lockwood made his first recordings with Doc Clayton in the "Bluebird" sessions, held in Aurora, Illinois. During these sessions, he cut four singles in his name, which were early versions of his staple repertoire. The recordings were released on Bluebird Records.
Also in 1941, Lockwood and Williamson were featured on the very first King Biscuit Time radio show at the historic KFFA station in Helena. For several years in the early 1940s the pair played together in and around Helena and continued to be associated with King Biscuit Time. From about 1944 to 1949 Lockwood played in West Memphis, Arkansas, St. Louis, Chicago and Memphis.
In 1950 Lockwood settled in Chicago and in the 1950s played on Williamson's second Chess Records album which also included Willie Dixon and Otis Spann. Lockwood also performed and/or recorded with Little Walter, Sunnyland Slim, Eddie Boyd and Muddy Waters.
Lockwood was an early influence of B.B. King and played with King during his early career in Memphis, Tennessee.
In 1961 Lockwood moved to Cleveland, Ohio where he continues to reside.
Lockwood plays at Cleveland's Fat Fish Blue (Corner of Prospect and Ontario, Downtown Cleveland) every Wednesday night at 8 p.m.