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Leroy Carr (March 27, 1905 – April 29, 1935) was an Americanmarker blues singer, songwriter and pianist who developed a laid-back, crooning technique and whose popularity and style influenced such artists as Nat King Cole and Ray Charles. He first became famous for "How Long, How Long Blues" on Vocalion Records in 1928.


Carr was born in Nashvillemarker, Tennesseemarker in 1905 and grew up in Louisvillemarker and the black section of Indianapolismarker, Indianamarker. By 1928 he had partnered with the jazz guitarist Scrapper Blackwell, and their work showed a distinctive urban influence that was unlike the intensely emotional vocals and heavily rhythmatic guitar back up, often bottleneck guitar style, of the Mississippimarker bluesmen. Carr was one of the first Northern bluesmen. Vocalion Records recorded him in 1928 and his first release "How Long, How Long Blues" was an immediate success. The innovation was in the sophisticated piano-guitar accompaniment and the wistfully sad mood. Music had moved from the lone guitarist in the fields to clubs with pianos for ready entertainment.

The success of his first release resulted in more Vocalion recordings. Although the Great Depression of the early 1930s slowed the music industry, Carr's success continued, reaching a peak number of releases in 1934. Throughout the early 1930s, Carr was one of the most popular bluesmen in Americamarker. While his professional career was successful, his personal life was spinning out of control, as he sank deeply into alcoholism. His sudden death in 1935 at the age of 30 was surrounded with rumour and mystery. Today most historians believed he died of nephritis. A few weeks after Carr's death, his guitarist, Blackwell, recorded a memorial, "My Old Pal Blues".


Although his recording career was cut short by his early death, Carr left behind a large body of work in his blues recordings. His partnership with guitarist Blackwell combined his light bluesy piano with a melodic jazz guitar that attracted the sophisticated urban black audience. His vocal style moved blues singing toward an urban sophistication and influenced such singers as T-Bone Walker, Charles Brown, Amos Milburn, Jimmy Witherspoon, Ray Charles among others.

Count Basie and Jimmy Rushing used some of Carr's songs and Basie's band shows the influence of Carr's piano style.

His music has been covered by notable artists such as Eric Clapton, Big Bill Broonzy, and Memphis Slim.


  1. Allmusic biography
  • Wald, Elijah. Escaping the Delta: Robert Johnson and the Invention of the Blues. HarperCollins, 2004. ISBN 0-06-052423-5

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