Newport MB Church in Ebenezer, MS
On October 8th, 2000, the Mt. Zion Memorial Fund dedicated the large granite headstone of Lonnie Pitchford at the Newport Baptist Church cemetery in Ebenezer, Mississippi–only a few feet from the headstone of Elmore James. Specially designed with a playable, one-string diddley bow mounted on the side–per the wishes of his family–the funding for the memorial came from John Fogerty and Rooster Blues Records. His death at an early age was a blow to the hearts of many in the Mississippi musical community and the memorial service held on a frosty fall evening was attended by dozens of family, friends, and blues fans. Bill Steber, of the Jake Leg Stompers, can be seen in the introduction photograph playing the diddley bow on the side of the marker.
“When I was five or six, I would make a one-string guitar upside the wall. I would get me some baling wire or wire from a broom that my Mom had discarded, and some old rusty nails – didn’t have new ones – I had to pull them out of the old boards. Then I would pound them into the wall upside the house, wrap the wire at both ends and lay a snuff can under the bottom. Then I’d just go to playing anything that came to mind.”
While playing in several bands in his teen years, he learned a host blues songs. He also started singing in different church groups at the age of twelve. In 1971, the fourteen year-old met folklorist and ethnomusicologist Worth Long, who recognized his talent and booked him to perform at the Smithsonian Festival of American Folklife. His warm reception solidified the youngster’s reputation and position alongside some of the living masters.
- All Around Man (Rooster CD R2629) his only solo album
- Living Country Blues USA 7, 9, 10 (1980)
- Roots of Rhythm and Blues: A Tribute to the Robert Johnson Era (CBS 48584)
- Deep Blues (Atlantic 82450-2)
- National Downhome Blues Festival (Southland SCD-21)
- The Harry Smith Connection: A Live Tribute To The Anthology Of American Folk Music (CD SF 40085)
- Played slide guitar on one track of John Mellencamp’s album Mr. Happy Go Lucky