As Memphis prepares for the biggest night of the year for the blues, the genre has lost one of its greatest heroes. Harmonica/vocalist Carey Bell died Sunday of a heart attack. He was 70. Carey Bell Harrington, a Macon, Mississippi native, was a fixture on the Chicago blues scene for decades. Bell's health had been declining recently as he suffered a stroke and broke a hip, hospitalizing him for four months.
Bell recorded numerous albums on his own and also played as a sideman for Muddy Waters and worked with Willie Dixon, Big Walter Horton, and Earl Hooker. As a solo artist, he recorded for Blind Pig, Delmark, JSP, and Blind Pig records. Delmark this year released a live CD/DVD, Gettin Up, featuring Bell performing with his son, Lurrie.
He is survived by 10 children.
The Blues Foundation will certainly remember Bell at the 28th Blues Music Awards tonight in Memphis. His passing will be mourned along with three of the evening's nominees who have passed away in the last year: Robert Lockwood Jr., Henry James Townsend, and Ruth Brown.
In addition to the remembering great blues artists who have passed, the Blues Foundation will recognize some outstanding records and artists released in the past year. This is the first year I have voted in the awards and I'm eager to see how many of the albums and artists I voted for will walk away with hardware.
Vying for the top prize of Album of the Year are:
- Watermelon Slim & The Workers – Watermelon Slim & The Workers
- Charlie Musselwhite – Delta Hardware
- Janiva Magness – Do I Move You?
- Nick Moss & The Flip Tops – Live at Chan's
- Irma Thomas – After The Rain