Lead Belly was a folk-blues singer, songwriter and guitarist whose ability to perform a vast repertoire of songs and notoriously violent life made him a legend.

He was born on 20th January 1888 in Louisiana. His birth name was Huddie William Ledbetter.

Lead Belly was imprisoned a number of times for murder, attempted murder and assault. On one occasion he won his release, having served the minimum sentence required, by appealing to the prison governor through song.

He inspired many musicians and bands including Bob Dylan and Nirvana.

Lead Belly died penniless in 1949 aged 61, but within six months his song “Goodnight, Irene” became a million-record hit for the singing group the Weavers; along with other pieces from his repertoire, among them “The Midnight Special” and “Rock Island Line,” it became a standard.


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