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Bluesman R.L. Burnside Dies

R.L. Burnside, a staple in the Mississippi Delta blues scene, died yesterday morning in Memphis, Tenn. of apparent complications rising from a recent heart attack. He was 78. He had been in the hospital for almost three weeks before his death, and while no official cause of death has been announced, Burnside suffered a heart attack last year and, according to his label, never fully recovered.

The native Mississippian was born on Nov. 21, 1926 in Harmontown, Miss., in the north Mississippi hill country. He spent most of his life in the region, working as a sharecropper and commercial fisherman and playing guitar on the weekends at house parties. It wasn’t until 1968 that Burnside was recorded for the first time. Folklorist George Mitchell recorded him for the Arhoolie label and Burnside soon had albums on the Vogue, Swingmaster and Highwater labels.

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