How Long, How Long Blues’ was a massive hit in the prewar blues era, a song that every blues singer and piano player had to know, and one that has continued to inspire dozens of cover versions as well as some notable spin-offs based on its popular melody (‘Sitting on Top of the World’ and Robert Johnson’s ‘Come On in My Kitchen’). It was the first record by Indianapolis singer-pianist Leroy Carr, who established himself as the most popular and influential male blues artist during his short lifetime (1905-1935). His steady partner on guitar, Scrapper Blackwell, provided the first of many impeccable accompaniments. Carr’s version was actually preceded by Ida Cox’s ‘How Long, Daddy, How Long’, from 1925. After Carr scored his hit, covers were recorded by Tampa Red, Count Basie, Coleman Hawkins, Big Joe Turner, Ray Charles, Dinah Washington, Lou Rawls, B.B. King, and many more.

Leroy Carr, vocal and piano; Scrapper Blackwell, guitar. Recorded June 19, 1928, Indianapolis, Indiana. Released on Vocalion 1191, Banner 32557, Oriole 8166, Perfect 0215, and Romeo 5166 (all 78 rpm).

Discographical details from Blues and Gospel Records 1890-1943.

— Jim O’Neal