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Big Maceo

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Big Maceo Merriweather (March 31, 1905 - February 23, 1953) was a blues pianist and singer active in Chicago in the 1940s.
Born Major Merriweather (or Merewether) in Atlanta, Georgia,[1] he taught himself how to play piano. In the 1920s he moved to Detroit, Michigan and began playing parties and clubs. In 1941, a desire to record led him to Chicago where he met and befriended Tampa Red. Red introduced him to Lester Melrose of Bluebird Records, who signed him to a recording contract.[2]

His first record was « Worried Life Blues » (1941), which promptly became a blues hit and remained his signature piece. Other classic piano blues recordings such as « Chicago Breakdown », « Texas Stomp », and « Detroit Jump » followed.[2] His piano style developed from players like Leroy Carr and Roosevelt Sykes, as well as from the Boogie-woogie style of Meade Lux Lewis and Albert Ammons. He in turn influenced other musicians like Henry Gray, who credits Merriweather to helping him launch his career as a blues pianist.

His career was cut short in 1946 by a stroke. Poor health and a lifetime of heavy drinking eventually led to a fatal heart attack. He died on 23 February 1953 in Chicago.[1]

However, he was one of the most influential blues piano players of the 1940s and his style had an impact on practically every post World War II blues pianist of note.

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