J.T. Funny Papa SMITH



There is very little detailed information about the background of John T. Funny Papa Smith. He was born in Texas, almost certainly between 1880 and 1890, and also spent time in both Louisiana and Oklahoma. He was an itinerant bluesman who travelled round the parties, fish fries and juke joints, often in the company of Texas Alexander and Dennis "Little Hat" Jones. He made nearly twenty recordings in a two year period 1930-1931. Amongst these was his trademark song "Howling Wolf Blues", and occasionally he was billed as The Howling Wolf. In some references to him he is called Cool Papa Smith and even Funny Paper Smith, the result of a record company error which culminated in the name being used on early recordings. Shortly after his last recording session in 1931 he was involved in a fight at a gambling joint and killed a man. He was sent to the Texas Penitentiary and his blues career was effectively over. He died some years later, possibly in 1940 or thereabouts.


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