Big Maceo Merriweather

bigmaceoHe was born Major Merriweather in Atlanta, Georgia. By the time he migrated to the Motor City in 1924, he was already a talented self-taught pianist. And by 1941, when he moved to Chicago for his first recording session, he was pretty much unmatched. He cut 14 tracks that first day for Bluebird Records. Some on his own and some with the legendary Tampa Red. That session was enough to change the face, or fingers, of blues piano. See, Big Maceo’s thundering 88’s inspired later greats like Henry Gray and Otis Spann. So even though Maceo’s career was tragically cut short by a stroke that paralyzed his right side, he managed to leave a legacy to be thankful for. Here’s a track that’ll give you an idea of just how good Maceo was. Brace yourself for some real boogie woogie. From 1945, Chicago piano master Big Maceo, with “Chicago Breakdown.”

Big Maceo Merriweather was born March 31, 1905 in Atlanta, Georgia. A self-taught pianist, his style went on to influence countless post-war blues players.

Maceo’s career began in 1941 when he met Tampa Red, who got him a recording contract with Bluebird Records. His very first record, Worried Life Blues, was a hit and quickly became a blues standard. Maceo remained Tampa’s favorite accompanist, and together they recorded a number of tracks and gigged around the south side of Chicago.

In 1946, he suffered a stroke that paralyzed his right side and left him all but unable to play. He tried to overcome the disability, but just couldn’t thunder on the keys like he once did. His health failing, Maceo passed away in 1953.