Blues Guitarist Freddy Robinson Dies at 70
Chicago bluesman Abu Talib, who performed under his given name, Freddy Robinson, has lost his battle with cancer. Robinson -- who played alongside the likes of Ray Charles, Little Walter, Howlin' Wolf, John Mayall, Jimmy Rogers, Monk Higgins, Bobby "Blue" Bland and Mighty Joe Young -- died last Thursday, Oct. 8, in a Lancaster, Calif. hospital at the age of 70.
Born in Memphis, Tenn. in 1939, Robinson recorded and wrote several songs including 'Black Fox,' 'At the Drive-In,' 'Bluesology' and the instrumental 'After Hours,' before changing his name to Abu Talib in the 1970s upon his conversion to Islam. His daughter, Linda Chaplin, told the Kansas City Star that her father first heard the blues when her grandfather Otis Robinson took him to a juke joint. Although he was too young for entry, he'd watch the musicians through a window.
Chaplin said her dad was so inspired, he built his own instrument out of bailing wire attached to the wall of a barn when he was just nine years old. He bought his first real guitar from the Sears catalog at age 13.
"He had that guitar his whole life and still played it. It was called Bessie," his former manager Vernell Jennings added. Talib -- who was always in demand in blues venues -- played by ear until he moved to the Windy City , where he went to school to learn to read music. He fathered seven children with his first wife, Mary Robinson, and a daughter with his second wife, Zakiyyah Talib.