The Midnight Special : The Legend of Leadbelly by Richard M. Garvin and Edmon G. Addeo
New York : Bernard Geis Associates, 1971. First printing. Hardcover. 312 pages ; 21 cm. $6.95 dust jacket. A very good copy with firm binding, clean and unmarked pages.
The Legendary Leadbelly - "King of the Twelve-String Guitar"
Huddle Ledbetter was born poor and black in the blazing cotton-lands of Louisiana, but he grew to violent manhood in the saloons and bawdy houses of Shreveport's bloody Fannin Street.
Trouble found him early and dogged his days, from his brawling, boozing, whoring youth through the years of brutal imprisonment, the intensive years of fame, and the bitter last years of his incredible life.
But music found him too, and his songs and his powerful twelve-string guitar sustained him through long years in Huntsville and Sugar Land, through the degradation of Texas chain gangs and the bone-breaking atrocities of infamous Angola Prison. Music drove him, sustained him, and at last won him a governor's pardon—not onCe but twioe—from a world most of us would not survive.
And somewhere along the way the dirt-poor, knife-wielding, half-savage boy became the genius known as Leadbelly, and such enduring classics as "The MidnightSpeciall," "Irene," and "The Rook Island Line" were born.
He lived hard and mean, he endured unbelievable pain and hardship, he saw fame come and watched it leave him behind, and he died in poverty, while others profited from the songs he wrote. But none who saw him, or heard his booming guitar and hard-driving songs, could ever forget Leadbelly. And the songs he left behind are still sung, from Woodstock to Carnegie Hall.
The authors spent months traveling through the places and unearthing the records of Leadbelly's past, from his birthplace near Moorings-port to the prison farms where so much of his life was spent, and from the barrelhouses of Shreveport to the cafes of Greenwich Village. In an artful blend of painstaking research and imaginative reconstruction, they have recreated the unique life of one of America's most colorful folk figures.
EDMOND G. ADDEO and RICHARD M. GARVIN live with their respective wives and children in Mill Valley, California, near San Francisco. They have co-authored two previous novels, The Fortec Conspiracy and The Talbott Agreement, and have collaborated on books in widely diversified fields ranging from sports to archeology to religion. They are presently engaged in separate projects, but another collaborative effort is in the planning and research stages. In the "Authors' Note" that opens the book, they have described their personal feelings about this project and their intense commitment to it.
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