Oldest Surviving Blues Artist Henry Townsend Dies

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Henry Townsend, who recorded every decade since the '20s, dies

--CHERYL WITTENAUER, Associated Press

ST. LOUIS - Blues guitarist Henry Townsend, who fled to St. Louis as a boy then stayed for a prolific career that spanned eight decades, died Sunday of pulmonary embolism in Grafton, Wis., where he was being honored. He was 96.

Townsend, who wrote and published hundreds of songs and accompanied musicians on hundreds more, began recording in 1929 and continued every decade since, an accomplishment that put him in rare company, said Mark O'Shaughnessy, president of BB's Jazz, Blues and Soups.

“He was the patriarch of St. Louis blues," O'Shaughnessy said. “He wasn't in it for the money. He believed in the music. It told a very honest story."

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