PINK ANDERSON

Blind SIMMIE DOOLEY
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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Pink Anderson was a musician and medicine show performer whose repertoire included blues, ballads, rags, and other songster material. He achieved lasting recognition when his Christian name was taken by Syd Barrett (along with that of contemporary Floyd Council) to name his new band back in the mid 1960's. However, although not one of the blues 'heavyweights', he merits mention in his own right. He was born in Laurens, South Carolina, in 1901 and moved with his family to Spartanburg, also in South Carolina,  when he was very young. As a child Pink sang and danced on street corners for tips, learning the basics of guitar playing from a neighbour. He first went on the road at age fourteen, employed by a Dr. Kerr of the Indian Remedy Company. In the early 1900’s, pitchmen such as this would travel from town to town with their ‘Medicine shows’. Performers were used to attract audiences to the tent, and the ‘doctors’ would sell miraculous elixirs, to cure a whole range of ailments. As a result Anderson's repertoire was very broad to enable him to do anything that might draw a crowd. In the early days he only sang a little, mainly dancing and telling a few jokes, but in 1918 he learned guitar from Simmie Dooley, a blind singer from Georgia who had settled in the Spartanburg area.

Simeon Dooley was a blues singer and guitar player who was born in Georgia, probably around 1900. As a young man he moved to Spartanville where he would spend the rest of his life. He performed on the streets of there both as a solo artist and with occasional partners until he eventually joined up with Pink Anderson. After teaching Anderson the guitar they played the streets, parties and picnics when Anderson wasn’t on the road in his other role as entertainer in the Indian Remedy Show. Dooley rarely accompanied Anderson with the medicine show as he hated travelling and Kerr was not prepared to afford Dooley the special attention a blind man required.

In April 1928, Dooley and Anderson were invited to record for Columbia in Atlanta, Georgia. They recorded four songs, all within the medicine show/songster tradition, two were released that year and two more the following year.

Columbia wanted Pink to return to Atlanta the following year to record on his own  but Pink refused to go without his partner and continued to play the Spartanburg area and tour with the medicine show until it closed in 1945. Dooley returned to the streets of Spartanville but he was forced to give up through ill health and he died in December 1960. Simmie Dooley may not have been an outstanding vocalist but contemporaries regarded him as one of the greatest country blues guitarists.

After the closure of the medicine show Anderson spent the next twelve years with 'Big Chief Thunderclouds Show' until health problems forced his retirement in 1957. During this period he also led a small guitar, washboard and harmonica trio with  harp player Keg "Shorty" Bell and washboard player Charley "Chilly Willy'' Williams. He recorded twice more, in the early 1950's and in the 1960's, but a stroke in 1964 stopped any more touring. He lived for another ten years, mainly playing for friends at his house where he also did a little bootlegging and ran a crap game. Pink Anderson died in 1974 aged 73 having taught his son "Little Pink Anderson" to carry on the family tradition.

   Pink Anderson & Simmie Dooley - Every Day In The Week Blues