Oct 24, 2018: Tony Joe White, of ‘Polk Salad Annie’ Fame—Obituary

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Tony Joe White via his Facebook page

Tony Joe White, the legendary songwriter known for penning songs recorded by (or with) Elvis Presley (“Polk Salad Annie”), Brook Benton (“Rainy Night in Georgia”), Dusty Springfield (“Willie and Laura Mae Jones”), Eric Clapton (“Did Somebody Make a Fool Out of You”), Tina Turner (“Steamy Windows”), Willie Nelson (“God’s Problem Child”), and many more, died on October 24, 2018, at his home in Leiper’s Fork, Tenn. White, 75, died of a heart attack.

This ad appeared in the Dec. 27, 1969 issue of Record World

The [Nashville] Tennessean, reporting the news on Oct. 25, quoted his son, Jody White: “He wasn’t ill at all. He just had a heart attack…there was no pain or suffering.”

White’s own Facebook page, also acknowledged his death: “We are with broken hearts to announce that Tony Joe White has passed away at the age of 75. A true legend that will always be remembered as a real artist.”

Just one month before his death, the songwriter had released a new, blues-based album, Bad Mouthin’, for Yep Roc Records, described as a “blend of classics and five White originals.”

White’s version of “Polk Salad Annie” reached #8 on the Hot 100 in 1969.

In describing the album, White said: “When and where I grew up, blues was just about the only music I heard and truly loved. I’ve always thought of myself as a blues musician, bottom line, because the blues is real, and I like to keep everything I do as real as it gets. So, I thought it was time to make a blues record that sounds the way I always loved the music.”

In 1970, Benton’s version of White’s “Rainy Night in Georgia” topped the R&B chart and reached #4 on the Hot 100.

White, was born in 1943 as the youngest of seven children on a cotton farm about 20 miles from the nearest town, Oak Grove, Louisiana, and said the foundation of his music “comes from hearing blues singers play guitar with maybe just a harmonica or stomping their feet for accompaniment.” Adding a drummer, he cut his teeth playing school dances and then moved on to nightclubs along the Texas and Louisiana “crawfish circuit” of rough and tumble watering holes. And then the hits started happening, with “Polk Salad Annie” reaching #8 on the pop charts in 1968. Two years later, Brook Benton’s recording of “Rainy Night in Georgia” topped the soul charts. Decades of touring and recording marked by hit songs and collaborations followed, with the likes of classic rock legends Eric Clapton, Jerry Lee Lewis and Mark Knopfler.

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3 Comments so far

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  1. Becky
    #1 Becky 25 October, 2018, 18:07

    RIP Tony Joe. A true classic.

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  2. walted
    #2 walted 26 October, 2018, 08:55

    God bless ya Tony..a true blueman is gone.

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  3. Papa Bear
    #3 Papa Bear 10 December, 2018, 21:36

    RIP TJW. Who’s gonna voodoo us now?

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