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Blind Alfred Reed
Born:  June 15, 1880
Died:  January 17, 1956
West Virgnia Music Hall of Fame (2007)

About The Artist

Alfred Reed was another resident of southern West Virginia who made notable contributions to the early years of country music. A native of Floyd, Virginia and blind from birth, Reed lived most of his life in Mercer County, West Virginia.

He proved to be an excellent but archaic styled fiddler and composer of some of the best original songs in the 1920s. The songs included comments and observations on changing times such as "Why Do You Bob Your Hair Girls" and "How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live."

Although poor, Reed and his wife managed to rear six children on his meager income from music.

A train wreck on the Virginian Railway in May 1927 inspired Reed to compose a ballad and he contacted the Victor Talking Machine Company. They invited him to their upcoming field sessions in Bristol, Tennessee where he recorded "The Wreck of the Virginian" and three other numbers, on all but one of which his driver Arthur Wyrick also played rhythm guitar. That December he, son Arville, and Fred Pendleton went to the Victor studio in Camden, New Jersey. Only Arville (mistakenly called Oville on record labels) accompanied his father on discs, but the son did one song by himself, and he and Fred did two numbers as the West Virginia Night Owls.

Nearly two more years elapsed before the father and son returned to record one final time. After that, the deepening depression ended his recording career.

His wife died in 1938. By the 1940s, he seldom played at all.

He died at nearly 76. When I (Ivan Tribe) started work on Mountainer Jamboree, three of his children separately contacted me to be sure than their father's contributions would be included (they were!)

Almost all of his nineteen songs are classics of old time music.

Credits & Sources

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Recordings (78rpm/45rpm)

Rec. No. Side Song Title
  5882 A Always Lift Him Up And Never Knock Him Down
  5882 B There'll Be No Distinction There (w/Orville Reed)
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  20836 A Wreck Of The Virginian
  20836 B Walking In The Way With Jesus
  20939 A You Must Unload
  20939 B I Mean To Love For Jesus
  21191 A Explosion In The Fairmont Mines
  21191 B The Prayer Of The Drunkard's Little Child
  21360 A Always Life Him Up And Never Knock Him Down
  21360 B Why Do You Bob Your Hair Girls
  21533 A The Fate of Chris Lively And Wife
  21533 B I'm Goin' To Walk On The Streets of Glory (By West Virginia Night Owls)
  23550 A Beware (w/Orville Reed)
  23550 B There'll Be No Distinction There
  23650 A The Old Fashioned Cottage
  23650 B You'll Miss Me
  40196 B Why Don't You Bob Your Hair, Girls? No.2
  40196 B Woman's Been After Man Ever Since
  40236 A How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times And Live
  40236 A How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times?
  40236 B Money Craving Folks
  40236 B Money Cravin' Folks
  40290 A Black And Blue Blues
  40290 A We've Just Got To Have 'Em That's All
  40290 B Black And Blue Blues
  40290 B We've Got To Have'em, That's All

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