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Cincinnati Blues Legend Big Joe Duskin Passes

Big Joe Duskin was part of a tradition of boogie woogie piano players that harks back to the 30’s, including such legends as Meade Lux Lewis, Freddie Slack, Albert Ammons, and Pete Johnson. Big Joe passed away recently, May 6 at age 86, one day before he was scheduled to have both legs amputated from the effects of severe diabetes. The Alabama-born Duskin lived in Avondale Ohio, and was presented by Cincinnati's mayor with a Key To The City in 2004, in acknowledgment of his enduring musical contributions. Another honor accorded the same year was a Blues Foundation nomination for Comeback Blues Album Of The Year for "Big Joe Jumps Again!"

Duskin started his blues career rather late, because of a promise made to his preacher father not to play the "devil’s music". In 1972, music historian and harmonica player Steve Tracy convinced Duskin to start performing on a regular basis, and since then Duskin has appeared at countless festivals throughout the States and Europe. Duskin was on the front page and the feature subject in an article done in the June 2005 issue of Living Blues magazine. This same year he also became the first African-American honored with the Ohio Heritage Fellowship Award from the Ohio Arts Council.

Joe’s infectious friendly spirit always elevated everyone he came in touch with, particularly the musicians who backed him, like guitarist Sean Carney. Sean’s poignant recollection makes for a fitting epitaph. He remembers Joe once telling him "Sean, one day someone's going to tell you, 'old Duskin died.' I don't want you to be sad, because I'm going home to be with God."

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Big Joe Duskin
  • Subtitle: Boogie Woogie Master Had A Late Start To Career
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