Pink Anderson

Pink Anderson

Pink Anderson blues guitar

A throwback to a long-gone period even at the time of his recordings, Pink Anderson (1900-74) was a historical figure whose music consisted of blues, folk music, ragtime, and conventional ballads.

Anderson was born in South Carolina and early on sang in the streets for cents. He was self-taught as a guitar player and explored throughout the Southeast with a range of medicine shows throughout 1915-1945, getting work anywhere he could. He was used not just as an artist and a singer, but also as a dancer and comic. Anderson tape-recorded 4 titles in 1928 however did not make another record up until Harlem Street Spirituals in 1950 for Riverside. At that time he laid down such conventional folk standards as “John Henry,’ ‘The Ship Titanic,” and “Wreck of the Old 97.”

Pink Anderson

Life and career

Anderson was born in Laurens, South Carolina, and raised in nearby Greenville and Spartanburg. He joined Dr. William R. Kerr of the Indian Remedy Company in 1914 to entertain the crowds while Kerr tried to sell a concoction purported to have medicinal qualities. He also toured with Leo “Chief Thundercloud” Kahdot and his medicine show, often with the harmonica player Arthur “Peg Leg Sam” Jackson, who was based in Jonesville, South Carolina.

Anderson was recorded by the folklorist Paul Clayton at the Virginia State Fair in May 1950. He recorded an album in the early 1960s and performed at some live venues. He appeared in the 1963 film The Bluesmen. He reduced his activities in the late 1960s after a stroke.Attempts by the folklorist Peter B. Lowry to record Anderson in 1970 were not successful, although apparently he could occasionally summon up some of his past abilities. A final tour took place in the early 1970s with the aid of Roy Book Binder, one of his “students”, taking him to Boston and New York.

He died in October 1974 of a heart attack, at the age of 74. He is interred at Lincoln Memorial Gardens, in Spartanburg.

Anderson’s son, known as Little Pink Anderson (b. July 13, 1954[5]), is a bluesman living in Vermillion, South Dakota.

The Pink in Pink Floyd

Syd Barrett, of English progressive rock band Pink Floyd, created the band’s name by juxtaposing the first names of Anderson and North Carolina bluesman Floyd Council, having noticed the names in the liner notes of a 1962 album by Blind Boy Fuller (Philips BBL-7512), written by the blues historian Paul Oliver: “Curley Weaver and Fred McMullen, … Pink Anderson or Floyd Council—these were a few amongst the many blues singers that were to be heard in the rolling hills of the Piedmont, or meandering with the streams through the wooded valleys.”



“Papa’s About to Get Mad” / “Gonna Tip Out Tonight”, Pink Anderson and Simmie Dooley (recorded 14 April 1928), Columbia 14336-D
“Every Day in the Week Blues” / “C.C. and O. Blues”, Pink Anderson and Simmie Dooley (recorded 14 April 1928), Columbia 14400-D


American Street Songs, Rev. Gary Davis and Pink Anderson, Riverside RLP 12-611
Carolina street ballads: “John Henry”, “Everyday in the Week”, “The Ship Titanic”, “Greasy Greens”, “Wreck of the Old 97”, “I’ve Got Mine”, “He’s in the Jailhouse Now”, Pink Anderson, recorded May 29, 1950, by Paul Clayton

Carolina Bluesman, vol.1 (1961), Prestige/Bluesville BV 1038

“My Baby Left Me This Morning”, “Baby, Please Don’t Go”, “Mama Where Did You Stay Last Night”, “Big House Blues”, “Meet Me in the Bottom”, “Weeping Willow Blues”, “Baby I’m Going Away”, “Thousand Woman Blues”, “I Had My Fun”, “Every Day in the Week”, “Try Some of That”

Carolina Medicine Show Hokum & Blues, Anderson and Baby Tate (1962), Folkways Records FS 3588

“You Don’t Know My Mind”, “That’s No Way to Do”, “Weeping Willow Blues”, “Meet Me in the Bottom”, “I Got a Woman ‘Cross Town”, “Greasy Greens”, “Boweevil”, “Chicken”, “He’s in the Jailhouse Now”, “The Titanic”, “The Boys of Your Uncle Sam”, “Baby Tate”, “See What You Done Done”, recorded live in Spartanburg, 1961–1962, by Samuel Charters

Medicine Show Man, vol. 2 (1962), Prestige/Bluesville BV 1051 / OBCCD-587-2

“I Got Mine”, “Greasy Greens”, “I Got a Woman ‘Way Cross Town”, “Travelin’ Man”, “Ain’t Nobody Home but Me”, “That’s No Way to Do”, “In the Jailhouse Now”, “South Forest Boogie”, “Chicken”, “I’m Going to Walk Through the Streets of…”

The Blues of Pink Anderson: Ballad & Folksinger, vol. 3 (1963), Prestige/Bluesville BV 1071 / OBCCD 577-1

“The Titanic”, “Boweevil”, “John Henry”, “Betty and Dupree”, “Sugar Babe”, “The Wreck of the Old 97”, “I Will Fly Away”, “The Kaiser”, “In the Evening”

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Anderson continued to perform at private parties, street fairs, and in travaling medicine show throughout the first half of the 1950s prior to retiring for a time due to illness.

However in 1961 the Bluesville label taped 3 albums of unaccompanied pieces by Anderson, recording him in Spartanburg, South Carolina. The titles of the 3 records, Carolina Blues Man, Medicine Show Man, and Ballad & Folksinger, vol. 3, summarize Pink Anderson’s life well and are a big piece of the collection that he had actually put out throughout the previous 35 years.

Pink Floyd - Pink AndersonPink Anderson remained active on a part-time basis up till the time of his death in 1974. His music represents the Carolina blues, and the custom of the continuously taking a trip folk singer.

Exactly what’s the name Pink Floyd indicate? Ever question where it originated from? How did those 2 words come together? Exactly what if I informed you the origin of the name Pink Floyd is buried in the blues …

It was early 1965, when a group of Cambridge art trainees required a brand-new name for their band. Front-man Syd Barrett was having a look at the within a Blind Boy Fuller record in his collection when he discovered the names “Pink Anderson” and “Floyd Council.” He integrated the 2 and the rest is rock n roll history.

The Pink that motivated Pink Floyd was a guy born Pinkney Anderson in 1900 in South Carolina. We do not know that much about him, however we do understand he was a finger-picker and a medication program huckster.

Pink Anderson Songs & Lyrics – The Wreck Of The Old 97

Pink Anderson recorded an epic version of “The Wreck Of The Old 97” for Samuel Charters in Spartanburg, South Carolina on August 14, 1961. 

The version can be found on “The Blues of Pink Anderson–Ballad and Folksinger, Vol. 3” on Prestige Bluesville, OBCCD-577-2.  It is recently enough since Fantasy, who put out the CD version of this recording, went under, that there are probably still some copies of the CD in stores.  If you find it, nab it–it’s a great CD.

Pink played this out of D in standard tuning, and did it from beginning to end (four minutes and thirty-eight seconds!) without taking a single solo or interrupting the narrative flow in any way.  That’s a lot of words to remember without coming up for air!  Most versions I have heard of this song have fewer than half as many verses as Pink sang.  I have been meaning to transcribe this one for a while.  I think my favorite aspect of it is the way Pink keeps singing about “Steve”; it’s like he’s talking about his next-door neighbor.  I hope you all get a chance to hear this one.

On the 29th day of one November morning
When the cloud was hangin’ low
97 pulled out from Washington city
Like an arrow shot from the bow

97 was the fastest mail train
The South had ever seen
And it run from New York by the way of Washington
Through Atlanta down in New Orlean (sic)

I was standing on the mount one cold and frosty morning
Watching the smoke from below
That were comin’ from the funnel of that black and dusty engine
Way down up on that Southern road

It was 97, the fastest mail train
That run the Southern line
And when she pulled in, at Lynchburg, Virginia
She was forty-seven minutes behind

Steve Brady, he was an engineerah (sic)
And a very brave man was he
Well, there’re many good men have lost their life
For the railroad company

When they give him his orders at Monroe, Virginia
Said, “Steve, you’s way behind.
This is not 38, but it’s old 97,
You must put her in Spencer on time.”

Steve, he smiled when he said to his black and dusty fireman
“Throw me in a little more coal
And as soon as we cross this White Oak Mountain
You can watch my driver roll.”

It was mighty rough road from Lynchburg to Danville
The line on a 3-mile grade
It were on that hill where he lost his air brakes
You can see what a jump he made

Steve come down that hill makin’ 90 miles an hour
His whistle began to scream
Steve was found in the wreck with his hand upon the throttle
And scalded to death by the steam

Steve, he had a little wife and also two children
Who were lyin’ at home in bed
They received the sad message saying, “Husband and father
Now’m is lyin’ in North Danville, dead.”

Now, ladies, you ought to let this be a warning
This, from now and on
Never speak hard words to your true lovin’ husband
They may leave you and never return

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Pink Anderson Song List

      Pink Anderson – The Titanic – 4:09
      Pink Anderson – Bo Weevil – 4:03
      Pink Anderson – John Henry – 5:03
      Pink Anderson – Betty and Dupree – 4:46
      Pink Anderson – Sugar Babe – 2:46
      Pink Anderson – The Wreck of the Old 97 – 4:43
      Pink Anderson – I Will Fly Away – 3:48
      Pink Anderson – The Kaiser – 2:08
      Pink Anderson – In the Evening – 3:18

So-called traveling medicine shows are important in the history of the blues.

Popular at the turn of the millenium, they were comprised of taking a trip horse and wagon groups that marketed “wonder remedies” in between range program acts. A number of the very best early blues entertainers cut their teeth on this minstrel circuit. Pink Anderson was among ’em.

Pink didn’t tape much prior to his rediscovery in the 1950’s, however he left a tradition throughout the folk-blues revival. And naturally, he provided his name to those psychedelic Brits. Here’s one of those unusual early Pink tracks. Pink Anderson, “C.C. & O Blues.”

Piedmont blues artist Pink Anderson was born February 12, 1900 in Laurens, South Carolina. At 14 he ended up being a medicine-show huckster, amusing crowds while salespersons hocked snake-oils and other medical mixtures. He was very first recorded for posterity in 1950 at a Virginia state fair. Anderson was “discovered,” recorded an album of 10 songs in the ’60s, and appeared in the 1963 movie The Bluesmen. After suffering a stroke, his activities were restricted, and he could not truly travel around any more. He died in 1974.

Good article curated here:

Pink Anderson is a fairly unknown Piedmont guitarist from South Carolina who was the major influence on the Spartanburg blues scene.

A veteran of the travelling medicine shows of the 1920’s and 30’s, Pink was recorded in the 20’s and later found a little fame in the blues revival of the 1950’s and 60’s. His is most famous as the source of the “Pink” in “Pink Floyd” after Syd Barrett, Pink Floyd’s original singer and guitarist, found his and Floyd Council’s names in an anthology of Piedmont guitarists.

Pinkney Anderson was born on February 12, 1900, in Laurens, South Carolina, the home town of the legendary Rev. Gary Davis, born just 4 years before Pink. His family moved around the area – Greenville and Spartanburg (where Pink made his home) – working as itinerant farm hands. Around age 10 Pink was given a guitar and bashed away at it in open tunings.

At age 14 he joined Dr William Kerr’s ‘Indian Remedy Company’ as a buck dancer – dancing while Kerr tried to sell snake oil to the crowds. Pink loved the travelling entertainer life style, and before long he was performing as a singer and dancer in various travelling medicine shows like Kerr’s such as Leo “Chief Thundercloud” Kahdot’s medicine show.

In Spartanburg in 1917 he met a blind guitarist named Simeon Dooley but better known as Blind Simmie. Blind Simmie was a very good guitarist and despite being 20 years older than the young Pink, he took him under his wing and taught Pink all he knew.

The area had a thriving blues scene with Gary Davis, Willie Walker, Sam Brooks and Josh White all regularly jamming together. Pink and Simmie were frequently seen on Spartanburg’s street corners performing as a duet when Pink wasn’t travelling with a medicine show. Simmie was a very good guitarist, rated by Gary Davis as up there with Willie Walker as the best pre-war country blues guitarist, and Pink was taught in this tradition.

On April 14, 1928, in Atlanta Georgia, the two were recorded by Columbia. They recorded 4 sides which were quite successful, especially the duet “Every Day in the Week Blues” with both singing and Pink playing rhythm to Simmie’s lead guitar. Columbia was encouraged with Pink’s singing and playing, and invited him to record further the following year. Loyal to his friend, however, Pink refused to record without Simmie and it was a further two decades before he would be recorded again.

Pink returned to the travelling medicine circuit and met a young harmonica player named Arthur ‘Sam’ Jackson and taught him the ropes of the medicine shows. A year or so after that met, Sam lost a leg after being hit by a train while hoboing, and adopted the nickname “Peg Leg Sam”. Pink and Peg Leg Sam frequently played together in the medicine shows.

Back in the Spartanburg and Greenville area, Pink was at the centre of the next generation of the blues scene. He was mentoring musicians like Peg Leg Sam and Baby Tate. In 1950, the musician and Folklorist Paul Clayton recorded Pink at the Virginia State Fair. These recordings were released as half of an Album also featuring Gary Davis titled “Rev. Gary Davis and Pink Anderson: American Street Songs” in 1961.

The blues revival was in full swing by the time the record was released, and the record produced a lot of interest in Pink’s music. Sam Charters, the musical historian and producer whose recordings introduced Lightnin’ Hopkins to the world, tracked Pink down to Spartanburg and recorded him on April 12, 1961. The recordings were released as “Pink Anderson: Vol. 1 Carolina Bluesman”.

Sam Charters returned in August and recorded another album with Pink accompanied by Baby Tate – “Pink Anderson: Carolina Medicine Show Hokum & Blues with Baby Tate”. The following two years more recordings and albums followed: “Pink Anderson: Vol. 2 Medicine Show Man” and “The Blues Of Pink Anderson: Ballad & Folksinger, Vol. 3”.

The three volumes recorded by Charters show that Pink is probably best remembered as a ‘songster’ rather than a bluesman. The blues were only part of a diverse repertoire, although the blues that Blind Simmie taught him 40 years earlier is evident in every song he played.
Pink played a few gigs and folk festivals in the early sixties, but a stroke in the mid 60’s ended his public performing. Folklorist Peter B. Lowry attempted to record Pink in 1970, but the recordings were never finished. Guitarist Roy Book Binder, who idolised Pink, met him in 1970 and organised a ‘farewell’ tour, playing when Pink was unable. In 1973, Book Binder’s first album was named “Travelling Man” in honour of Pink

Pink Anderson died of a heart attack on October 12, 1974 and is buried in Lincoln Memorial Gardens in Spartanburg. His son, Little Pink Anderson, continued in his father’s footsteps and is a bluesman based out of South Dakota.

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Download Tab PDF for Pink Anderson I’ll Fly Away

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